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Archive for Friday, September 18, 1998

JEWS BEGIN HOLIEST TIME OF YEAR

September 18, 1998

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The holiest days of the year for the Jewish community are approaching with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

It's a time of repentance and a time of celebration.

``This is the time of year all Jews have a clean slate,'' said Rabbi Judith Beiner of the Lawrence Jewish Community Center. ``Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are happy times. ... These are the most important holidays in our calendar.''

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, begins at sundown Sunday. The new year begins with 10 days of repentance, ending on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Sept. 30.

``The Jewish New is Year is more of a serious time,'' Beiner said, not a night of parties like the secular New Year. It is a day of remembrance, a day of the sounding of the shofar and is tied to creation of the world.

``It's, by and large, a synagogue-based holy day,'' she said. ``The crowning mark of the services is the shofar is sounded.''

The shofar, the ram's horn, was sounded at the coronation of kings and at battles.

``It reminds us of the ancient world, ... it ties us to our past,'' she said. ``It's really a wake up call for us.''

The new year, Beiner said, is a time to look toward the future and consider one's past conduct.

``A lot of people go to synagogue, more than any other time of year,'' she said.

But it isn't simply a time of reckoning: Friends and families gather for meals, too.

``We're supposed to eat sweet foods, that are supposed to remind us of a sweet year,'' she said. Traditional foods include apples and honey, honey cakes and round challah, a bread.

During the days after the new year and before Yom Kippur, Jews are supposed to consider their behavior and try to improve it.

``We're supposed to apologize for past misdeeds,'' she said.

After the 10 days of repentance comes the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

``The shofar is also blown throughout Yom Kippur as well,'' Beiner said. ``Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year.''

It's observed with a 24-hour fast, from sundown to sundown. Many people celebrate with a ``break fast'' after sundown.

``We spend the day atoning for our sins,'' Beiner said. ``We don't go to confession individually; instead we atone as a community.''

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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