WOODSTOCK – Sundown on Wednesday marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
The date varies from year to year because the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, officials from the Crystal Lake-based Congregation Tikkun Olam said in a statement.
This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Wednesday, and Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, begins at sundown Sept. 29.
On Rosh Hashanah, those who practice Judaism believe God judges their actions and writes them in the “Book of Life” for the upcoming year.
“[The book includes] who will live, who will die, who will be poor, who will be rich, who will be humbled, who will be exalted,” according to the statement.
Jewish people can repent for their wrongdoings until Yom Kippur, when the book is sealed. Although weekly sabbaths are considered Jews’ holiest days, Yom Kippur is the next holiest. On this day, healthy adult practitioners fast for 24 hours and spend the day in prayer and reflection.
“Our fast reminds us of the hungry and needy in the world, and gives us an opportunity to focus on our spiritual needs. For many Jews, fasting emphasizes their commitment to the difficult task of change in the coming year,” officials said. “The day also includes a special memorial service (Yizkor) to remember deceased loved ones.”
The holiday is filled with tradition, including special food, songs and prayers. For example, on Rosh Hashanah, apples are dipped into honey as a symbol of a sweet new year; challah, the special braided egg bread eaten each sabbath and on many holidays, is baked in a special round shape just for High Holy Days; the shofar, or ram’s horn, is sounded in the temples as an ancient reminder of the call to Holy Convocation.
Yom Kippur begins with chants and often ends with attendees breaking their fast together.
Congregation Tikkun Olam holds its services at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 503 W. Jackson St., Woodstock.
Attendees can celebrate Erev Rosh Hashanah at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Rosh Hashanah at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Yom Kippur celebrations begin at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 and continue the next day with a morning service at 10 a.m., an adult study group at 3 p.m., Yizkor (memorial) and concluding services at 4:30 p.m., and Havdalah and a dairy potluck to break fasting at 5:30 p.m.