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Jews Are Observing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Sept. 15, 2004 — The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas and Rabbi Arthur F. Starr offer this explanation of the meaning and celebration of this month's Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Jewish community of St Thomas and St John joined with Jews the world over in welcoming the Jewish New Year on Sept. 15 and continuing on Sept. 16.
Rosh Hashanah (literally, "Head of the Year") is a day of reflection and prayer, the beginning of the ten days of repentance. Jews are summoned to examine their lives over the past year, look at the direction they are going and resolve to better themselves and their world. The summons comes from God but is reflected in the sound of the Shofar, the ram's horn, intended to rouse Jewish people from slumber and apathy.
Searching out the inner recesses of their hearts, Jews acknowledge shortcomings and faults. They recognize that they can change and can be forgiven for errors. They pray they will be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year, knowing that their lives stand in judgment before God at this time. The greeting extended to each other during these ten days is "L'shanah tovah tikatevu – May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year."
The Ten Days of Repentance culminate on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. The day is spent fasting from sundown to sundown and in prayer and introspection. Having recognized their faults, Jews are assured that God desires not the death of the sinner — only that they repent and change their ways.
The High Holyday observances in St. Thomas began with a service of s'lichot – penitential prayers. The service took place Sept. 11 at the Lilienfeld House.
Rosh Hashanah services were planned for Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. and Sept. at 10 a.m. The Shofar will be sounded at the 10 a.m. service. In the afternoon, the members of the congregation will participate in the traditional casting away of sins at Magens Bay at 4 p.m. followed by a picnic supper there — weather permitting.
Yom Kippur services begin with Kol Nidre at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 and will continue all day on Thursday, starting at 10 a.m. and conclude with a Break-the-Fast at the end of the day.
Anyone of the Jewish faith who would like to attend services but is not a member of the synagogue can obtain complimentary invitations by calling Rabbi Starr at the synagogue, 774-4312.

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