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Sat, Feb. 29

Jews come together for High Holy Days

The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will bring Jews in the Quad Cities together in a community of prayer starting at sundown on the evening of Sept. 29 with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and will conclude 10 days later with the observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

The High Holy Days mark the beginning of the Jewish Year. Unlike the secular New Year, the High Holy Days are a time of reflection and renewal. It is a time when Jews look inside themselves and turn from places where they may have erred or sinned. It is also an opportunity for Jews to practice charity, repentance and prayer. It’s a time when Jews seek forgiveness from one another and from God.

Traditionally, Jews believe that on Rosh Hashanah, God opens the Book of Life and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. People pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year. Some understand the idea of being judged to be a reminder of how fragile life is, and the importance of making the most of every day.

It is also a time when Jews around the world connect with God through prayer. Jews use this season as a time to search their hearts — taking stock of the good and bad, even if the truth may hurt.

The Days of Awe, as they are known, begin with blasts from the shofar, or ram’s horn, a tradition that dates from Biblical times. The sound of the shofar is a call to prayer — it’s a reminder to wake up and be alert, to atone for the errors of the past year. The shofar blasts also send us a message of hope and a call toward working for freedom for all people.

To set the stage for High Holy Days, Temple B’rith Shalom will hold a Selichot (Penitence) service on Saturday evening, September 21, at 7 p.m. The Selichot service helps get Jewish hearts ready for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. At Selchot, the covers on Torah scrolls are changed to white — a symbol of purity for this season.

Though the High Holy Days are serious in tone and liturgy, Jews traditionally begin the period with a festive meal to celebrate the joyous beginning of the Jewish New Year. They also eat apples and honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet year.

At Yom Kippur, Jews center on how to lead better lives in the year ahead. They fast and pray in order to provide focus for the tasks at hand: repentance and improvement.

Temple B’rith Shalom invites all Jews and their families in the area, to join in services during the High Holy Day Season. The Temple does not require tickets to attend. For further information and a schedule of High Holy Days services, call the Temple office at (928) 708-0018.

— Information provided by Temple B’rith Shalom

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