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Time for reflection, community

Religion: Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the ‘days of awe,’ new year

Posted: September 9, 2010 10:18 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Cantor Kenny Ellis chants “Hineni, The Hazzan’s Prayer” as he walks among the hundreds gathered for Rosh Hashana services Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. Thursday morning began the second day of service for Rosh Hashana.

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Local Jews on Thursday morning exchanged greetings of “Shana Tova,” or “Happy New Year” in Hebrew, coupled with kisses, handshakes and welcoming smiles for fellow temple members.

More than 500 Rosh Hashana observers packed seats in the Hyatt Regency Valencia ballroom, singing and reciting Hebrew prayer songs led by Rabbi Mark Blazer and Cantor Kenny Ellis of Temple Beth Ami.

Thursday morning began with the second day service of Rosh Hashana, the beginning of a 10-day Jewish holiday period known as the “days of awe.”

The holiday marks Jewish year 5771 and signifies an introspective time of repentance and forgiveness.

“It’s the beginning of the week of reflection,” said Saugus resident Keith Jacobs, who attended the service with his wife and three daughters.

Holy Days draw to a close on Sept. 18 with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which ends at sundown.

Jacobs said he planned to review his behavior and relationships over the past year and set goals for the coming months.

For Sandi Hershenson, of Stevenson Ranch, the holidays bring about nostalgia.

“I think fondly of my childhood and memories I had of Rosh Hashana growing up,” she said.

Rosh Hashana began Wednesday at sundown. Members of the SCV’s other two Jewish congregations, Chabad of SCV and Congregation Beth Shalom, also gathered in observance of their new year.

Beth Shalom hosted its services at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Several of the synagogue’s congregants stood at the microphone on Wednesday evening to share blessings they had received over the past year. Some spoke of graduations and grandchildren while others mentioned milestone birthdays or anniversaries.

Rabbi Howard Siegel challenged Beth Shalom members and visitors to celebrate the journey of life rather than obsess over the end.

“Enjoy the blessing of being alive by living each moment,” he said.

He encouraged congregants to review their priorities and to reflect on how much time is spent on work compared to time devoted to nurturing relationships.

Lori Gardner, of Canyon Country, said she would renew her commitment to being a better parent and a better partner in her marriage.

“In the day to day, you just keep going,” she said. “This is a time to take a deep breath and ask, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who do I want to be to the people I love?’”

Gardner’s husband, Jon Gardner, said his commitments only stick if he attends temple throughout the year.

“If I didn’t go to temple the rest of the year, it would probably wear off,” he said. “I need constant reminding.”



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