The High Holy Days in the Jewish calendar are the most intense, introspective and deeply emotional days of the year.
These days begin with Rosh Hashanah (literally the head of the year, or the Jewish new year) — a day of both celebration and hallowed ritual.
Yom Kippur (literally a day of atonement) comes 10 days later and is marked by fasting and solemn prayer. This 10-day period is a time of introspection, reconciliation and self-awareness.
The High Holy Days serve to bring us together as a community. They help us conclude another year gone by, and ready us to begin the new year to come.
One of the most celebrated and exciting observances of Rosh Hashanah morning is the sounding of the shofar. Traditionally, no less than 100 blasts of a ram’s horn are heard.
Some long, some short, the sounds of the shofar remind us of our higher purpose and serve as a wake-up call for those who may be spiritually asleep.
Teshuvah (literally repentance or turning) is the key theme of the High Holy Day season. Repentance begins with the recognition of our faults, failures, and weaknesses.
We move from recognition to a willingness to make amends with anyone we have wronged. We seek their forgiveness and understanding, just as we hope others will with us.
How can I fully express the awesome power of these 10 holy days?
Franz Rosenzweig was one of the leading Jewish philosophers of the last century. He was born in Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family, and considered converting to Christianity. Determined to embrace the faith as the early Christians did, he resolved first to live as an observant Jew before becoming Christian.
Famously, in 1913, after attending Yom Kippur services at a small synagogue in Berlin, he underwent a mystical experience. As a result, he never again entertained thoughts of conversion, deciding instead to remain a faithful Jew.
He went on to be- come one of our most renowned scholars. Such is the awesome power of the High Holy Days.
As you already know if you read my monthly column, Temple Beth El warmly welcomes everyone to our worship services. That includes the High Holy Days.
Rosh Hashanah evening worship is at 7:30 Sept. 8; morning services are at 10 the next day. Yom Kippur Eve Kol Nidre worship, with viola accompaniment, is at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17; morning services are the next day at 10; Healing Service is at 4.
L’shana Tova! Happy New Year 5771!
Rabbi Harold F. Caminker, is rabbi of Temple Beth El, 4200 32nd St. W., Bradenton. Shabbat services are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. For more information, call (941) 755-4900 or visit www.templebethelbradenton.com.