Although the world’s 13-million-plus Jews are divided in many ways – politically, geographically, and in the ways they observe their mutual faith – for the majority of them, an important period of reflection, atonement and celebration begins next week.
The High Holy Days, called the Yamim Noraim in Hebrew (?????? ???? or “Days of Awe”), begin at sundown on September 8 with the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah (“Jewish New Year”) and Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”).This is also known as the Ten Days of Repentance (“Aseret Yemei Teshuvah”).
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which this year marks the year 5771 according to the Hebrew calendar, is celebrated the first and second days of Tishri, the Jewish calendar’s seventh month.Yom Kippur, the Day of Atone- ment, is observed on the tenth day of Tishri, and is the most solemn day of the Jewish year.
During the preceding month (Elul), a period of introspection and repentance is presecribed for observant Jews, including the recitation of special prayers. The Twenty-seventh Psalm is added at the end of morning and evening prayers, and the symbolic ram’s horn (shofar) is blown at the end of services. It is also customary for many Jews to increase charitable giving (Tzedakah) and to ask the forgiveness of friends for wrongs.
Yom Kippur (???? ???, “Day of Atonement”) is the Jewish Day of Atonement. Observant Jews fast throughout the day and attend services. The High Holy Days are among the peak attendance days for synagogues and temples around the world. Since Synagogues do not pass the collection plate during services as many Christian churches do (Jews being forbidden to touch money on the Sabbath or holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), many American synagogues charge for attendance on the high holidays.
Among observant Jews, many prefer the term “High Holy Days,” which emphasizes their personal, reflective, introspective aspects, while others use “Holidays” to suggest the celebrations of events in the history of the Jewish people, such as Purim or Passover.
Members of South Florida’s Jewish LGBT community, along with family and friends, can experience the High Holy Days at Congregation Etz Chaim in Wilton Manors. For more informa- tion, you’re encouraged to visit www.etzchaimflorida.org.