Rosh Hashanah service at Temple Sinai tonight; new year observed Thursday

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Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown today. It will be year 5778 on the Jewish calendar, which they date from the creation.

Rabbi Leah Doberne-Schor of Columbia will lead the Rosh Hashanah service at 8 p.m. today at Temple Sinai, 11 Church St., and beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, members of the congregation will meet again to observe the new year. During Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people acknowledge their sins committed during the previous year in order to be judged by God.

It is during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that the mournful call of the shofar, a ram's horn, is sounded to awake the community to doing the right thing. Feasting on traditional foods such as honey cake, apples dipped in honey, challah, brisket and other special foods is also traditional for many, as is attending a service near a body of water into which they throw bread to symbolize the washing away of their sins.

While Rosh Hashanah ends officially at sunset on Friday, some continue to observe the "Ten Days of Repentance." Marlene Denemark of the Temple Sinai congregation said the observance will continue for 10 days, culminating with Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement," the most holy Jewish holiday, at sunset on Friday, Sept. 29. Rabbi Sanford Marcus, also of Columbia, will conduct the Yom Kippur service.

Denemark said many Jews will observe a complete fast on Yom Kippur; that is, "not even water" will be consumed. The observance marked by prayers and introspection ends at sunset on Saturday, Sept. 30.