Jews will begin the observance of Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year, at sundown Wednesday.

Services ushering in the year 5778 on the Hebrew calendar will feature the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn mentioned in the Torah.

Rosh Hashana is a time when Jews gather with family members and their communities to reflect on the past year and the one 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 sealed at the end of Yom Kippur.

“On Rosh Hashanah, Jews come together to begin a new chapter of our lives,” Rabbi Ilana Grinblat, Vice President of Community Engagement for the Board of Rabbis at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told City News Service.

“We each reflect and take stock of our lives — and the state of our families, communities and the world. We seek to do t’shuvah, which is often translated as repentance, but actually means return.

We assess what steps we need to take to return to ourselves, our family, and to God.”

In a call to Jewish leaders on Friday, President Donald Trump said, The Jewish tradition of making time and taking time each year to rededicate your lives to the sacred values you hold dear not only improves yourselves but strengthens our nation and inspires us all.

As we mark the beginning of the year 5778 in the Jewish calendar, I want to express my deep admiration for the Jewish people. Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people have endured unthinkable persecution.

I am grateful for the history, culture, and values the Jewish people have given to civilization. We forcefully condemn those who seek to incite anti- Semitism, or to spread any form of slander and hate.

I will ensure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, that face threats to their safety.”

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 6:45-8:30 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.

The Chai Center describes itself as “a very nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the Jewish community of Greater Los Angeles” with such events as a “Dinner for 60 Strangers” each Friday evening, classes on a variety of topics of Judaism and singles parties “for Conservative, Reform, non-affiliates and any Jew that moves.”

A free service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Laugh Factory at 8001 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, conducted in the liberal Conservative Jewish tradition by Rabbi Bob Jacobs and Cantor Robin Winston.

This is the 34th year High Holy Days services will be held at the Laugh Factory. More information about the service is available by emailing info@laughfactory.com.

“Two of the main reasons I love doing this is so many actors, writers, comedians and the entire Hollywood community who are away from their families have no place to pray for the holidays,” club owner Jamie Masada said.

“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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