Sundown this Wednesday, Sept. 28, marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, also known in Hebrew as Yamin Noraim or “Days of Awe.” This period includes the holidays Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year”) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) within a ten-day period also known as the Ten Days of Repentance.
This is a time when Jews look forward to a new year (the Hebrew calendar’s year begins on the first and second days of the month of Tishri, occurring in either September or October on the Julian calendar). It is also a time of reflection about one’s sins or in more modern terms, how to improve one’s life.
During the month leading up to the High Holy Days, observant Jews recite prayers during a time of introspection and repentance called Selichot. On Erev Rosh Hashanah (the evening before the first day of Rosh Hashanah) and on the two days of the holiday, Jews attend lengthy synagogue services which include the blowing of the ram’s horn or shofar. There are also day-long services on Yom Kippur, when Jews fast for 24 hours in repentance.
A ceremony performed by many synagogues is Tashlich, the casting off of sins into a body of water. This ritual is performed by several local synagogues at Santa Monica beach. The “sins” are represented symbolically with bread crumbs that the rabbi hands to participants who then fling them into the ocean, often attracting hordes of seagulls.
At home on Erev Rosh Hashanah, families recite New Year’s prayers and celebrate with glasses of wine and challah bread spread with honey for a “sweet new year.” Sweet desserts are also popular and include apples, pomegranates, honey cake, teiglach (a sticky sweet pastry), and kugel (a sweet noodle pudding).
Services and celebrations
(1428 17th Street, 310.453.3011, www.thechabadnik.org) will be holding High Holy Days services September 28-30 (Rosh Hashanah) and October 7-8 (Yom Kippur). A traditional service and dinner will be held on Erev Rosh Hashanah beginning at 6:30 p.m. September 28.
Santa Monica Synagogue
(1448 18th Street, 310.453.4276, www.thesms.org) will hold services including Selichot, September 24, 9 p.m. “under the stars” (call for location); Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 28, 7:30 p.m.; Rosh Hashanah, September 29, 10 a.m.; Tashlich, September 29, 3:30 p.m. at the beach, foot of Ocean Park Boulevard and Kol Nidre services, on October 7 at 7:30 p.m., and Children’s services on October 8 at 3:00 p.m. A Yom Kippur service will be held October 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with a congregational “break-fast” at 6:30 p.m.
Beth Shir Shalom
(1827 California Avenue, 310.453.3361) High Holy Days services will be held at Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High School (601 Pico Boulevard). A Selichot Shabbat service will be held September 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Erev Rosh Hashanah on September 28 at 7:30 p.m., a morning Rosh Hashanah service at 10 a.m. on September 29 with a bagel breakfast at 9 a.m.; a children’s service that afternoon at 1 p.m. and Tashlich at the beach at 3 p.m. Erev Yom Kippur will be held on October 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Yom Kippur at 10 a.m., October 8.
(www.nashuva.com), a Jewish community without a building, will be holding High Holy Days services September 28, 6:30 p.m. and September 29, 9:30 a.m., both at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second Street, and September 30, 9 a.m. (a nature hike in Temescal Canyon Park, followed by an outdoor service at 10 a.m.).
Nashuva’s Tashlich will be performed at Venice Beach, foot of Venice Boulevard, September 29 at 4:45 p.m.
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