Jewish New Year begins with Rosh Hashana
The Jewish faithful marked the beginning of Rosh Hashana at sundown Wednesday with ancient liturgies and rituals intended to invoke reflection and repentance over the sins of the past year and the sweetness of the hoped-for opportunities the new year will bring.
Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the 10-day period of contemplation and self-examination that culminates with Yom Kippur, the most solemn holy day in the Jewish calendar.
"It is a time when we get into a contemplative spirit and do our best to wipe the slate clean and to start off the new year fresh, see new opportunities...and work through those internal struggles and challenges we face," said Rabbi Eric Cohen of Temple Israel, a conservative congregation in Manchester.
"The beginning of the new year is taking stock of where you have been, what you have done, and what are your hopes for the new year," he added.
Rituals during the holiday, which ends Friday, include eating fruit dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for sweetness in the new year.
The observant also will stand by a river, ocean or other water body and toss bread crumbs into the water to symbolize ridding themselves of their sins.
Yom Kippur is known as the day of atonement when the faithful atone for sins they committed in the prior year by going to those they have harmed and asking for forgiveness, Cohen said.
"One of the hardest things is to forgive others. You might be a good repenter, but when someone has hurt you...can you get beyond that? This can be really hard, hard work," Cohen said.
Foremost in his mind during this year's High Holy Days are internal conflicts in Israel between the religious and non-religious Jews and Palestinians and Jews. He said he also is concerned about the decisions that will made regarding whether to attack Syria.