This Friday is special for Jewish people. At sunset, they will be saying special prayers and lighting special candles as the Rosh Hashanah holy days or Jewish New Year begin today.
Beginning Saturday or Sunday, depending on the congregation, the sounding of the shofar - a trumpet made from a ram's horn - will start. The ritual is symbolic of what the High Holy Days are about: a call for introspection, forgiveness and changing one's course in life, said Rabbi Charles A. Klein of the Merrick Jewish Centre.
It "asks us to wake up, to take a serious look at our lives," he said, "and not just to sleep away our lives."
The High Holy Days will culminate with Yom Kippur, which starts at sunset on Sept. 27. That day is the most solemn and important on the Jewish calendar - the faithful will fast for at least 24 hours and engage in intense prayer.
Klein said preparations for Rosh Hashanah began a month ago, as Jews around the world began a period of spiritual introspection. As that reflection moves into the High Holy Days, many Jews may take actions, such as seeking forgiveness from others for any wrong they've done.
During Rosh Hashanah many Jews attend services at local synagogues and enjoy traditional meals with their families.
Rabbi Steven Moss said that at his synagogue, B'nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, the faithful have also prepared for the holy days by taking part in a food drive. They've collected about 2 tons of food they plan to distribute to the needy.
Both he and Klein said the economic turmoil of the past year is a theme that will be emphasized in many synagogues.
Klein said he expects many rabbis to talk about Iran's possible development of nuclear weapons - which he said could threaten Israel's security. Many rabbis may urge their congregations to "turn up the heat on our government to prevent that from happening," he said. Haaretz reported.