beginning of High Holy Days that end with Yom Kippur. Photo courtesy of Congregation Beth Israel

Free services for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that starts a 10-day period of repentance and contemplation, will be held Monday in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Most congregations require membership and tickets for High Holy Days services, but some synagogues and organizations hold services and Rosh Hashana observances that are open to the public at no charge.

A free service will be held at 11 a.m. at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, conducted in the Reform Jewish tradition by Rabbi Bob Jacobs.

This is the 36th year High Holy Days services will be held at the Laugh Factory. Due to high attendance, reservations are requested to be made by calling 323-656-1336 or by emailing info@laughfactory.com with the number of guests, contact number, & ZIP code.

People planning to attend are requested to arrive early in order to be accommodated indoors.

“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.

“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.”

The Chai Center will hold a no-cost service from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

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 aspects of Judaism, and singles parties “for Conservative, Reform, non-affiliates and any Jew that moves.”

Rosh Hashana began at sundown Sunday. Services marking the arrival of the year 5780 on the Hebrew calendar feature the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn mentioned in the Torah and used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and as a call to arms and now used at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

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 period of contemplation and repentance culminating in 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.

“Rosh Hashana is a time to reflect and repent, to pray and to rejoice and to usher a new year with optimism and hope,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ first elected Jewish mayor. Bernard Cohn was acting mayor from Nov. 21-Dec. 5, 1878, having been appointed by the Common Council to the position after the death of Frederick A. MacDougal.

“As Jewish families in Los Angeles and across the globe come together to dip apples in honey and offer our thanks for another year of life and possibility all of us should take this opportunity to step back, look at our own lives and determine how we can better uphold our values by renewing our commitment to advancing the causes of peace, pursuing the promise of justice and protecting our world.

“Rosh Hashana is a chance for all of us to appreciate the blessings around us and our families, our friends, our communities.”

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