Sunday at sundown the Jewish High Holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and signals the start of the year for Judaism. But the meaning of the holiday goes much deeper.
Choni Marozov, Rabbi of Chabad of SCV, explained Rosh Hashanah is also the day that honors the creation of mankind. It is celebrated on the sixth day of creation, as told in Genesis in the Torah, or Old Testament Bible.
“In Judaism there are certain days that are not just a day that something occurred, but focus on a spiritual energy,” explained Marozov. “Rosh Hashanah is the day Adam and Eve were created, it is the sixth day of creation, or the birthday of mankind.”
Marozov explained, while many honor Rosh Hashanah as the Jewish New Year and a time to focus on renewal and repentance, it is also a time to focus on the creation of the entire universe.
“We thank God in prayers for creating us,” he said. “Judaism teaches us every human being is created for a purpose. There may be 7 billion people, but God does not make anything in vain.”
Marozov said Rosh Hashanah can be a time to meditate on your personal purpose and mission in life, a purpose that only you can fulfill. It is also a time to think about how to affect the world in a positive way.
“During this time we can be self-reflective to help us avoid the things that keep us from reaching our potential,” explained Mark Blazer, Rabbi at Temple Beth Ami.
Reflection and renewal
Major themes of Rosh Hashanah include thinking about the past year, seeking forgiveness for your wrongs and focusing on a positive year to come. Most synagogues are decorated in white and Rabbis wear white robes to symbolize a pure beginning for the year.
“This is a time to look at our lives over the past year and reflect upon where we’ve fallen short,” explained Ron Hauss, Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom. “We reflect on where we’ve fallen short, seek those we’ve wronged, and start the new year afresh.”
Another emphasis includes charity. Jews are asked to complete charitable acts during the High Holidays and go beyond themselves.
Congregation members of Chabad of SCV are delivering packages of food to families in need, which include holiday essentials, such as round challah and honey. Those included packaged food items and gift cards. Chabad began delivering the care packages last week to those in need.
“This is a time for charity and to recognize we don’t live just for ourselves,” said Marozov.
Congregation Beth Shalom is also focused on charity during the High Holidays and at the start of Rosh Hashanah Hauss plans to announce a new vision for the synagogue to transform Congregation Beth Shalom into a “community cultural center for the entire Jewish community.”
“We will launch a broad range of social action programs that will expand the Jewish presence in Santa Clarita,” explained Hauss.
Rosh Hashanah officially begins Sunday night, Oct. 2 and lasts through Tuesday evening. The holiday is celebrated with warm New Year’s greetings, special foods, commemorative services, prayers, holiday cards, and of course the sounding of the shofar which is done throughout Rosh Hashanah services.
“It is a Biblical commandment to blow the shofar on the holiday” explained Blazer. “But it is also a call for us to wake up and change our behavior and get ourselves focused again for the New Year.”
The shofar is a ram’s horn that is traditionally sounded during High Holiday services. It is a reminder of when God bestowed the commandments to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, at that time, a ram’s horn was blown. It’s also a reminder of renewal for the New Year.
Other special additions to Rosh Hashanah services at Chabad include the addition of a children’s program this Monday with a special puppet show telling the story of Rosh Hashanah. A special guest cantor will visit for the services and the congregation will host a full lunch buffet after Rosh Hashanah service Monday.
“Rosh Hashanah is the day that will decide how our year will be blessed,” said Marozov. “It is an important time to make resolutions and pray together in the synagogue, we have the power of community. We come together and ask God to send us a good year.”
Chabad of SCV hosts their services Sunday Oct 2. at 7 p.m., Monday Oct. 3 at 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Tuesday Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. For more information visit chabadscv.com.
Congregation Beth Shalom’s services are Monday Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Tuesday Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. For more information visit cbs-scv.org.
Temple Beth Ami will host services at Real Life Church Sunday, Oct 2 at 8 p.m., Monday Oct. 3 at 9 a.m., and at their own synagogue Tuesday Oct 4 at 7:30 p.m. For more information visit templebethami.org.