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The Year 5772 Begins on Wednesday, September 28

“Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Jewish New Year,” says Rabbi Fred Schwalb , “but there’s no party. Traditionally, it’s the day we reflect on our behavior in the past year. We ask ourselves whom we may have hurt and how we can make amends to that person.”

Rosh Hashanah translates as, “the terrible days. Jews believe this is the time when God decides your fate for the coming year,” the rabbi explains. “On Rosh Hashanah God makes a sheet or a ledger, one side good things, the other side bad things. People pray that God will be merciful and forgive them. But they must be forgiven by the people whom they’ve hurt. This is a dilemma in Judaism. The forgiveness of God -- the forgiveness of other people? There is no clear answer.”

The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as The Days of Awe, is a time of psychological preparation. “We need religion more than ever these days, because we have become an immoral world. The purpose of religion today is to help people be more conscious of the moral consequences of their actions -- before they act.”

Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday night at dusk. At the Reconstructionist Hebrew Congregation of Somers , there are services on Wednesday night, on Thursday and Friday mornings, on the night of Yom Kippur (Friday, October 7) and in the morning and afternoon of October 8.

“In our congregation we read and discuss the Book of Jonah on Saturday. We talk about the time when God locked the doors of the temple in Jerusalem. This meant your fate was sealed for the coming year.”

“On Rosh Hoshanah, we eat and pray. On Yom Kippur, we fast,” Rabbi Schwalb explained. “All Judaism is about: do we eat or do we fast? It’s all about the stomach.”

What do Jews eat on Yom Kippur? “After fasting all day, you want something light. So we eat bagels and lox. By the way, they have better bagels in Tokyo than they do in Israel.”

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