Rosh Hashanah - a time of celebration and personal reflection

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By Special to the Monitor

On Sept. 18, the two-day Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins. Rosh Hashanah is Hebrew for “head of the year” and this day begins the Jewish year 5770.

The holiday celebrates the creation of mankind and features festive meals and New Year good wishes. It also begins a 10-day period of personal reassessment and atonement.

Known as the Days of Awe, this is a time of introspection and a chance to consider where one might have been a better person. It is a time to ask forgiveness from others for intentional or unintentional wrongs. The Days of Awe culminate in Yom Kippur, a fast day, when Jews ask God for forgiveness for wrongs committed against God, beginning with the ancient chant of Kol Nidre.

The Jewish calendar is neither solar, like the familiar Gregorian calendar, nor strictly lunar, like the Islamic calendar. Rather, it is a complicated mix of the two that inserts a leap month seven out of every 19 years. Thus, the Jewish New Year falls at different times between late September and early October.

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