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Archive for September 2015

Yom Kippur: Awesome day for Jews

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bshofar01Yom Kippur, the awesome Day of Atonement for Jews, will finish the High Holy Days starting at sundown today (Sept. 22). The holy days began at sundown Sept. 13 with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

The holy days are a time to examine one’s life, repent of shortcomings and resolve to correct them. Tradition says that God holds people’s lives in the balance during these “10 Days of Repentance” before determining their fate for the coming year.

Tonight’s service features the Kol Nidre, a prayer set to sad medieval music. The prayer asks for release from “all vows” — the translation of Kol Nidre — to God that have not been kept.

All day tomorrow, the faithful will fast and attend a succession of synagogue services, including Yizkor memorial prayers for the dead. Traditional prayers include Al Het, an “acrostic” list of sins, whose initials form the Hebrew alphabet. As the worshiper recites the list, he strikes his chest to emphasize repentance.

Last service of the day is Neilah, signaling the closing of heaven’s gates and the sealing of everyone’s fate for another year.

Although non-Jews might view the High Holy Days as guilt-ridden, rabbis say the observance actually shows divine mercy. They point out that het, usually translated “sin,” is an archery term that means to miss the mark. And shuva, repentance, is almost identical to teshuva, to turn — as in returning to right living.

— James D. Davis

Photo via Guru Photos.

Written by Jim Davis

September 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Days of Awe: Rosh Hashana starts High Holy Days

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Closeup of Torah text, with the name of God, YHWH, in the center. Photographer: Daniel Tibi, via Wikimedia Commons. Used by permission  (CC BY 3.0).

Closeup of Torah text, with the name of God, YHWH, in the center. Photographer: Daniel Tibi, via Wikimedia Commons. Used by permission (CC BY 3.0).

The setting sun tonight signals Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, for South Florida’s half-million Jews. Rosh Hashana, opens the solemn 10-day period known as the High Holy Days.

Also called Yamim Noraim, or Days of Awe, the holy days are a pause in time, a season of prayer and fasting. Area synagogues often overflow, pointing up the pre-eminence of the holy days.

Traditional Jews believe that God scrutinizes each person, waiting to see who is worthy of good or bad fortune for the next year. Liberal Jews likewise use the High Holy Days as a time to review their lives and resolve to be better persons.

The High Holy Days end this year on Sept. 23 with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. That day-long series of services ends with a blast from the shofar, or ram’s horn, closing God’s books and sealing everyone’s fate for the year.

— JAMES D. DAVIS

Written by Jim Davis

September 13, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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