As Rosh Hashana approaches, Jewish synagogues and temples, such as Congregation Beth Tikvah in Wantagh, prepare to reflect upon life’s lessons learned this past year.
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Weisblum of Congregation Beth Tikvah said the Rosh Hashanah holiday is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. All the years past events are recalled as individuals pray and look towards introspection and self-service.
With Rosh Hashana beginning at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 9, Congregation Beth Tikvah will hold a series of special services to reflect on the holiday, including a family Shabbat service at 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 14. The theme of these services is “Rosh Hashana in high holidays.”
Weisblum said the Rosh Hashana holiday is a time to meet and greet a lot of people because there’s such a large attendance of those who celebrate. He finds meeting new people during this time to be one of the most meaningful parts of the holiday. Children will come attend the different services, he said, and be given treats.
A traditional horn, the shofar, is blown to “wake up the hearts” of individuals.
According to a letter from Weisblum, published in the Congregation Beth Tikvah’s High Holy Days 2018 Guide, the shofar is created by hollowing out a ram’s horn. He added that the shofar is the world’s oldest wind instrument and sounding the horn is “one of the most ancient rites in the Rosh Hashana service.”
“The sound of the shofar is primitive and piercing, intended to rouse worshippers from their spiritual slumber and serve as a clarion call to repent and reconnect with our faith, our family and Hashem (God).”
At the end of the 10-day period of Rosh Hashana comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the holiest day of the year in Judaism. The central themes of this holiday, which falls on September 18 this year, are atonement and repentance.
“We believe that [Rosh Hashanah] is the day of judgment,” Weisblum said.
In his letter, Weisblum said the Book of Life is opened during Rosh Hashana, through the end of Yom Kippur.
“As God judges us in the heavens, we extend forgiveness to all around us and especially to ourselves, in hopes that He will see fit to grant us forgiveness as well,” he said in the letter.
Weisblum writes that during this time everyone pledges to be better people performing better actions and in turn “bringing more graciousness and peace to the world.”
Rosh Hashana introduces new chances and opportunities, he said, likening this holiday experience to that of buying a new car: everything is different and “fresh.” Weisblum calls the holiday a “very moving experience.”
“You feel like everything starts new,” he said.