At sundown Sunday, Jews will begin the observance of Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year.
Services ushering in the year 5777 on the Hebrew calendar will feature the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn mentioned frequently in the Torah.
Rosh Hashana is a time when Jews gather with family members and their community to reflect on the past year and the new one that is beginning.
Celebrants also eat festive meals featuring apples dipped in honey, symbolic of the wishes for a sweet year.
Rosh Hashana begins a 10-day period of contemplation and repentance leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Judaism’s most solemn and somber day.
During the High Holy Days, Jewish tradition holds that God records the fate of each person for the coming year in the Book of Life, which is closed at the end of Yom Kippur.
“Rosh Hashanah is a time where we take stock of our lives and wrestle with the questions of who we have been and who we would like to become,” said Rabbi Ilana Grinblat, Vice President of Community Engagement for the Board of Rabbis at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
“We reflect on the nature of our relationships with family, friends, and community and what we can do to improve the world. The three central vehicles of transformation are prayer, repentance, and acts of loving-kindness.
“By confronting our shortcomings, and releasing our sorrows and fears, we emerge with renewed sense of purpose and joy into the New Year. Rosh Hashanah offers a clean state — a chance to begin anew and become who we are meant to be.”
To Mayor Eric Garcetti, the High Holy Days are “a sacred time that calls out to the hopeful in every heart, breaks down the levees of division and nourishes the hardened soil of selfishness.”
“The dawn of the New Year invites us to build a more compassionate, more tolerant, and graceful world,” said Garcetti, Los Angeles’ first elected Jewish mayor. “I hope we will all heed that call.”
Although most congregations require membership and tickets for High Holy Days services, some synagogues and organizations have services and Rosh Hashana observances that are open to the public for no charge.
The Chai Center will hold a no-cost service from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Writers Guild Theater at 135 S. Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.
The service will be followed by what is billed as “The Largest Jewish New Year’s Eve Party” from 8:30-10:30 p.m.
A service will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday at the Writers Guild Theater.
The Chai Center describes itself as “a very nonprofit organization” that conducts singles parties, Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations, classes, lecturers and counseling “for Conservative, Reform, non-affiliates and any Jew that moves.”
A free service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Laugh Factory at 8001 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, conducted in the Reform Jewish tradition by Rabbi Bob Jacobs.
Due to high attendance, reservations are quested and can be made by calling (323) 656-1336, ext. 1 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including your name, number of guests, contact number, & ZIP code.
Observers are requested to come early in order to be accommodated indoors.
This is the 33rd consecutive year High Holy Days services will be held at the Laugh Factory.
“Two of the main reasons I love doing this is it gives so many actors, writers, comedians, and the entire Hollywood community who are away from their families a place to pray for the holidays,” club owner Jamie Masada said.
“And, with the economic crisis this country has been experiencing now for over a decade, so many people cannot afford the high cost of tickets that most temples charge in order to attend services. At the Laugh Factory Temple, all are welcome to come and pray.”
— City News Service
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