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Jewish community begins celebration of High Holy Days

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Blowing of the shofar commemorates Rosh Hashana

By Sandy Barnes

The Jewish community in Jefferson County is preparing for the High Holy Days — a time of spiritual reflection, repentance and renewal known as the Days of Awe.

This year’s celebration begins on the evening of Sept. 4 with Rosh Hashana and continues through Sept. 14 with concluding Yom Kippur services.

“The Jewish High Holy Days season is both solemn and joyous,” said Rabbi Séverine Sokol of Congregation B’nai Chaim in Morrison. 

“It is solemn because we take stock of our lives, seriously reflecting on our mistakes in order to work out how to repair the harm we have caused over the past year. As we make amends with the people we have hurt, we grow up a bit more.” The season is also joyous because it is filled with all the exciting possibilities that another year brings, Sokol said.

“We feel restored and inspired as new horizons open and fresh opportunities come to light. As we become blessed with renewed energy, we can set out to fulfill our great potential,” said Sokol.

“The High Holy Days also afford us the powerful experience of praying together in harmony as a community,” she added.

While discussing his perspective on the High Holy Days, Rabbi Levi Brackman of Judaism in the Foothills in Evergreen said that they are a time to restore and draw down spirituality for the new year, a time for people to renew their blessings in the Jewish tradition.

The High Holidays are a 10-day period when the gates of heaven are open and when congregants ask God to place their names in the Book of Life, bringing the promise of a good new year, Brackman explained.

Rosh Hashana actually begins on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Brackman noted.

“It commemorates the birthday of Adam, of humanity,” he said. “It’s a celebration.”

To bring sweetness to Rosh Hashana, members of the Jewish congregation eat apples, honey and carrots, he said. 

A hallmark of Rosh Hashana is the blowing of the shofar, which Brackman described as “a cry, or yearning, to renew ourselves and become more wholesome.”

“We blow it in different types of melodies,” with each signifying a different type of yearning, he said.

Celebrating with music

Cantor Kim Harris will lead High Holy Days services at Congregation B’nai Chaim along with Rabbi Séverine Sokol.

People who are not members of the congregation are welcome to attend the services, said Sandy Solove, a B’nai Chaim board member.

“We will try to seat them and suggest they make donations.”

Solove said she enjoys being a member of the Reform synagogue, which has a relatively small congregation.

“It’s nice to walk into a place and know everyone,” she said.

“We’re about education, and providing a communal place for Jewish people to meet.”

“To me, the holidays are so important,” said Solove. “They represent to me what you should be doing all year.”

“As a person, I use that to check in with myself,” she said. “This is how you should be all the time.”

B’nai Chaim draws its membership from South Jeffco, including Littleton, Lakewood, Highlands Ranch and the Ken Caryl area.

Contact Sandy Barnes sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.