The Jewish High Holy Days began with Rosh Hashanah, (New Year) at sundown, Sunday, September 13 and will end with Yom Kippur, a long day of fasting and prayer, on Wednesday, September 23.
If anyone is counting, it will be the year 5776.
Traditional congregations mark the New Year with two evenings and two days of prayer, while most Reform congregations limit their services to one evening and one day. All observe Yom Kippur with one evening and one day.
During this time, most Synagogues and Temples are filled with worshippers seeking to reflect upon their lives and whether they have lived them in the spirit of God and His commandments, seeking His solace for their sins. Rabbis’ sermons address issues of everyday living, the state of the world and of Israel and the relevance of the Torah portions that are chanted during the services.
Jews throughout the world stand and listen to the sound of the Shofar, the ram’s horn that signals the beginning of the New Year and the end of Yom Kippur.
Cindy Sher, executive editor of JUF News, has written: “Did you stand up for the things that matter to you and stick up for people who needed it? Were you sensitive to the pain and bloodshed of others that you heard about in the news? Did you teach your children to be kind to people, to animals and to the earth? Were you charitable?”
Her list goes on a bit more.
As I sit in the service, I think about whom I may have wronged in the past year and seek their forgiveness, just as I think of those who I think have wronged me and forgive them.
We ask that we and all those we hold dear are inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year.
The High Holy Days are a time to stop and reflect on our lives, each one of us, and how we relate to one another especially those who we love.