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Hundreds gather for traditional Rosh Hashana service

Posted: September 5, 2013 4:50 p.m.
Updated: September 5, 2013 4:50 p.m.

Mitch Sodikoff blows the shofar for the hundreds of attendees gathered at Rosh Hashana services held at Valencia Hyatt on Thursday. The high holy day marked the start of the year 5774 in the Jewish calendar. Photo by Dan Watson.

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SANTA CLARITA - Greetings of “Shana Tova” could be heard throughout the Hyatt Valencia on Thursday as nearly 1,000 Jews from the surrounding communities celebrated a major holiday.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, began the 10-day period of the high holy days. It is a time focused on prayer and reflection.

Events kicked off Thursday with a joyous service hosted by Temple Beth Ami.

The holiday, which is considered the most important of the Jewish calendar, was observed with a service at the Hyatt to accommodate the extra attendees. Rabbi Mark Blazer from Temple Beth Ami spoke to the congregation, asking them to contemplate their behavior, relationships and their place in this world during the high holy days.

Robin Heinz Bratslavsky has been attending Temple Beth Ami for 11 years with her family. She says Rosh Hashana is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

“During the secular New Year you might blow some horns, drink some champagne and call it a day,” she said. “During Rosh Hashana we do a lot of prayer, self-reflection and focus on forgiveness.”

Cakes and apples were laid out for the congregation to usher in a “sweet” new year with the tradition of dipping them in honey. Children and teens were offered separate age-appropriate services with crafts and service projects.

The service featured special prayers, traditional Jewish songs and Torah readings. The Torah was carefully removed from its cabinet and shown around the room for each attendee to have a chance to view and touch the sacred scrolls.

The service was completed with the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn.

Mitch Sodikoff has been the shofar player for Temple Beth Ami since 2002. He he began playing alongside his father when he was only 13.

The shofar is blown intermittently several times toward the end of the three-hour service. The final sounding is held as long as possible to offer people an opportunity to contemplate “rebirth” in the new year.

“The shofar is blown to awaken people’s souls and mind sets,” Sodikoff said. “It’s a spiritual awakening.”




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