High Holy Days in Judaism

Many outside the Jewish tradition remain unfamiliar with the High Holy Days meaning and events.  MyJewishLearning.com provides a break down of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the time in between that constitute the High Holy Days.

Although the High Holidays themselves–the two days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) — occupy three days only, they lie within a web of liturgy and customs that extend from the beginning of the preceding Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur. The focus of this entire period is the process of teshuvah, or repentance, whereby a Jew admits to sins, asks for forgiveness, and resolves not to repeat the sins. Recognizing the psychological difficulty of self-examination and personal change, the rabbis instituted a 40-day period whose intensity spirals toward its culmination on Yom Kippur, a day devoted entirely to fasting and repentance.

When Does the High Holidays Season Begin?

The High Holiday period begins on the first day of the Jewish month of Elul. In the Ashkenazi tradition, during this month of soul searching, the shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown each morning except on the Sabbath, to call upon listeners to begin the difficult process of repentance. Also in Elul special haftarot–prophetic portions–focusing on consolation acknowledge the vulnerability of an individual grappling with personal change. During the week before Rosh Hashanah, intensity increases as traditional Jews begin reciting selichot, prayers that involve confessing sins and requesting God’s forgiveness and help. On the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah, the selichot are chanted at midnight, rather than their usual early morning hour.

What Are the 10 Days of Repentance?

The culmination of the High Holiday period occurs during the Ten Days of Repentance, which begin on 1 Tishrei with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur. During this period, human beings have the chance to tip the scales of divine judgment in their favor through repentance, prayer, and tzedakah(performing righteous deeds and giving money to charitable causes).

Not only is Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year, which commemorates God’s creation of the world, but also the Day of Judgment, when God remembers and judges all human deeds. Except on Shabbat, services are punctuated with the call of the shofar, which according to Maimonides, is saying, “Awake, you sleepers, from your slumber…examine your deeds, return in repentance, and remember your Creator.” Human beings are believed to be in mortal danger at this time, with their lives hinging on the decision to repent. Only those who choose to forego sin are inscribed in the symbolic “book of life” that is a central liturgical image of Rosh Hashanah.

On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the theological bent of the morning services is reinforced in a concrete way during the Tashlikh ceremony, during which individuals symbolically cast away their personal sins by throwing breadcrumbs into a flowing body of water. This action is accompanied by the recitation of biblical verses that evoke the human capacity for repentance and the beneficence of Divine forgiveness through the metaphor of casting sins into depths of the waters.

What is Shabbat Shuvah, and What Happens on Yom Kippur?

The Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return, or Repentance, after a verse from the haftarah declaring “Return O Israel to the Lord, your God” (Hosea 14:2).

The transition to Yom Kippur begins the in the hours preceding the evening onset of the festival with the recitation of the first vidui, or communal confession of sins, at the afternoon service. Some Jews choose to go to the mikveh, or ritual bath, to purify themselves before the holiday. The striving toward inner purity is also reflected in the white outfits traditional for the day. In traditional congregations, men will don a white robe called a kittel over their holiday clothes. In some liberal congregation, both men and women might choose to wear white garments to symbolize this quest for spiritual purity.

Within the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur is the pinnacle of intensity, moving toward the decisive moment at its close when God is imagined as sealing the books of life and death. The day’s total focus on spiritual concerns is exemplified by fasting and abstaining from everyday activities such as bathing, sexual relations, and the wearing of leather shoes.

The liturgical day of Yom Kippur, known as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, begins with the Kol Nidre service immediately prior to sunset. The heartrending poems and prayers of the Machzor, the prayer book used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which express the themes of repentance, human frailty, and humility before God, combine with the nusah, or musical style of the service, to express the momentousness of the day.

Liturgical elements that distinguish the Yom Kippur services include a recounting of the Temple serviceon Yom Kippur, a description of the suffering of rabbis martyred by the Romans, and the reading of the Book of Jonah. The day closes with the Neilah service, during which penitents pray before the open ark, with one last chance to repent before the book of life is sealed. The very name of the service, Neilah (locking) refers to the imagery that the gates of repentance, open during the High Holidays, are now shutting. A lengthy sounding of the shofar, called a tekiah gedolah, releases the Jew back into the realm of the everyday bolstered by a final echo of the call to repentance.

 

Source: Myjewishlearning.com

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Conversion and Hebrew Classes Offered Through CSI

The shul is thrilled to announce the beginning of our conversion and adult Hebrew classes!  Rabbi Robert Green teaches both classes at the synagogue on weekends he is in attendance.  The conversion classes are on Saturdays at 7pm while Adult Hebrew is at 830am on Sundays.  Please contact us if you have any questions.

No experience in either subject is required!

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Food Festival a Great Success!

Sunday, September 18, 2016 saw the synagogue open its doors to the community during the third Jewish food festival. A new addition of falafel proved very popular and included another non-synagogue member in the culinary providers.

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Ronni Cook headed the committee organizing the event, and both fiscally and socially, the only way to describe the festival is a great success. Not only did the synagogue raise money, but also raised awareness of our food, cultural, and community presence. The tickets sold out at the first seating, and patrons also purchased the cookbooks compiled and edited by Ronni Cook.falafel1-1

The next food festival will take place on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

falafel2-1The board and committee would like to extend their profuse thanks to Ronni Cook for spearheading the events, Barb Eshelman, Emily Beaton, and Catherine Clay for the musical entertainment, and all of the wonderful cooks who donated time and food to the event.

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CSoI starts GoFundMe Campaign. Please Contribute!

Our goal is to serve with distinction the needs of our Jewish community in Chambersburg PA, Franklin County, and the surrounding areas, for many years.

As you may know, we have weathered several financial challenges recently.  To help guarantee our long-term stability, we started a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe.

Feel free to ask questions (use our “Contact Us” page!) and, of course, donations of any amount are welcomed and appreciated.  Thank you!  Use the GoFundMe donation window below, or the smaller badge/link on the right column of every page of the site.  And you can also donate via Paypal.

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Our new glossy trifold brochure…

Trifold brochureIf you haven’t seen our new Synagogue glossy brochure yet, we hope you’ll keep an eye out for it around town and when you come to visit.  If you know people who might like to learn more about our congregation and services, please take a couple of these with you and share them with those who will find them valuable.

We spent months deciding on the messages we wanted to share, in the hope that new eyes would review them, and spend only minutes deciding that they should come visit us to learn more about our shared community.

Regards,
Your boardmembers at Chambersburg Sons of Israel

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Welcome to our new website!

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Thank you for visiting the new site for Congregation Sons of Israel, in Chambersburg, PA. We’re very proud to unveil this fresh reflection of Jewish Life in Chambersburg, and hope you will find it a valuable resource in maintaining your connection to our community.

If you would like to share any ideas, questions, or comments, please use our “Contact Us” page to send us a message. Thanks in advance!

Regards,
Your boardmembers at Chambersburg Sons of Israel

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