Wednesday, September 24, 2008

L'shanah Tova (Happy New Year)

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Jewish Community will begin celebrating Rosh Hashanah at sundown, Monday, Sept. 29, and end at nightfall on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Rosh Hashanah means the "head of the year." As the start of the new year 5769, this is traditionally a time of renewal, in which the Jewish people focus attention on what they have done to make the world a better place to live, and what they can do to improve upon their deeds.

For this reason, Rosh Hashanah is also called the Day of Remembrance and the Day of Judgment. Biblical sources for Rosh Hashana can be found in Leviticus 23:23-24: "The Lord said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.'"

According to scripture, Rosh Hashanah is the day on which God remembers mankind, and mankind considers both his successes and failures.

It's "looking into your soul and asking yourself what you need to do to be a better person in my relationships with God, with my loved ones and myself," Rabbi Barney Brickner said.

As with all Jewish festivals, Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset with the gathering of friends and family. Brickner will sound the shofar, the ancient ram's horn that provides the stirring moments in the Rosh Hashanah service. Other traditions include lighting of the candles and the Motzi prayer said over the challah, which is made to resemble a crown symbolizing the sovereignty of God and whose round shape represents the annual cycle of decay and renewal. Just before the start of the holiday meal, a Kiddush (prayer) is said and apples are dipped in honey to symbolize delicious hopes for a sweet year.

Worship services will be held in the evening and begin again the following morning. The theme is about belonging to a community that is unique in its embrace of solitude," Brickner said. "The people who live here come to be alone with themselves. That is not common in most places. Most people run from solace. It's a place that values individualism. But there is also a need to be part of a bigger world beyond yourself and the impossibility of running away from that responsibility. People need to be part of a society that has a purpose, that brings meaning."

To conclude the High Holy days, Yom Kippur will begin at sunset Wednesday, Oct. 8.

For more information call the Wood River Jewish Community at 726-1183, or visit

Rosh Hashanah Services

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, Rosh Hashanah Evening Service

10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, Rosh Hashanah Day Service; 2 p.m. Children's Service (for ages 4-12); 4:30 p.m. Tashlich.

6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, Shabbat Shuvah—The Shabbat of Return

Where: St. Thomas Episcopal Church, on Sun Valley Road.

Who: Guest cantor will be Ida Rea Cahanna

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