Jewish New Year observances to start this weekend

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts Sunday, Sept. 29, and continues until Tuesday, Oct. 1, this year, beginning 10 days of repentance that end with Yom Kippur, on Tuesday, Oct. 8, to Wednesday, Oct. 9. These are the most solemn High Holy Days in the Jewish faith.

Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish High Holy Days specified in Leviticus 23:23-32, will begin on Sunday night at sundown, explained Rabbi Estelle Mills of Temple Bat Yam, a Reform synagogue in Berlin, Md. Jews will celebrate the beginning of the year 5780.

“Just like it’s time to have a medical check-up once a year, this yearly check-up is the time to look at our actions and our behaviors, and look at what we can do to improve our own behavior,” Mills said.

“Rosh Hashana begins 10 days of self-reflection to prepare for Yom Kippur and prepare for atonement and repentance. Yom Kippur is a very personal holiday. You spend the entire day in the synagogue. It’s a very direct relationship with God. There is no intermediary in Judaism. Any sins are between us and God,” she said.

Bat Yam has about 200 members, including many from Ocean View, Bethany Beach, Selbyville, Millsboro and other Delaware coast towns.

Weekly services are open to anyone of any faith, but tickets are required for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services due to limited seating capacity, she said. Call (410) 641-4311.

Regular services are on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m.

“Everyone is always welcome to visit us. A good portion of our service is in Hebrew because our prayer book is in Hebrew. We read from right to left instead of left to right. Our Torah scripture reading is done from a large scroll kept in a holy arc. The Torah is the five books of Moses, in scroll form. Our scriptures come from what Christians call the Old Testament. It’s exactly the same, except we don’t call it the Old Testament,” she explained.

The common Rosh Hashana greeting is “L’shanah tovah,” meaning “for a good year,” and families traditionally eat apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet new year ahead, as well as honey cake, fish, leeks, chard, spinach and dates.

During synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah, and the end of Yom Kippur, the shofar, or ram’s horn trumpet, is blown.

Interestingly, there are four sounds —  tekiah, a pure unbroken sound calling man to search his heart and seek forgiveness through repentance; teruah, a broken, staccato, trembling sound representing sorrow that comes from realizing misconduct; shevarim, a wave-like sound of alarm calling upon man to stand by the banner of God; and tekiah gedolah, a prolonged, unbroken sound representing a final appeal to sincere repentance and atonement.


By Susan Canfora

Staff Reporter