Chabad of Park City is opening the gates to all on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
The next couple of weeks are two of the most sacred of the year for the global Jewish community, and to celebrate, a local organization will open their doors to all members of the public whether they’re residents, visitors, Jews or gentiles.
Chabad of Park City will hold services for both of Judaism’s High Holy Days: Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which starts at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 9, and continues through nightfall on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and Yom Kippur, a day of atonement, which begins at sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and ends after dark on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
A new year
“Rosh” translates to “head” and “Hashana” to “the year” in Hebrew. Rabbi Yudi Steiger, of Chabad of Park City, said the celebration, which will ring in the Hebrew year 5779, is more quiet and reflective than January 1.
“Just like the head gives life and controls the body, our actions during the two days of Rosh Hashana have an immense effect on what will happen throughout the coming year,” Steiger said. “It’s celebrated as a serious and solemn day, which is unlike the Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 New Year’s celebration where everyone parties. We observe it with spending time in the synagogue and praying.”
Not all of the holy day is somber, Steiger said. In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana commemorates the birthday of the universe, and during it celebrants sound the shofar, a ram’s horn, to coronate God as king.
“It’s like coronating a king when people will blow their trumpets,” Steiger said. “The sound of the shofar also signifies a cry that comes from deep inside of people’s hearts when they yearn to return to their roots. God hears the cry and opens up the gates of heaven and gives everyone a good year.
“The services are open to all, especially those who are passing through Park City,” Steiger said. “We don’t want anyone to be left out on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.”
The services are open regardless of attendees’ level of observance, he said.
“We want to make the services enjoyable and meaningful to all who attend,” Steiger said. “We will do that through song and commentary. We have Hebrew and English books, so people can follow along in a way that is comfortable to them. So when God opens the gates of Heaven, the least we can do is open our doors to the community.”
Among the customs of Rosh Hashana is the eating sweet foods and fish, according to Steiger.
“We will have apples and honey, and the apples will be harvested from the trees at Wasatch State Park,” he said. “We also eat other traditional foods such as pomegranates because we want to do as many good deeds as (there are) seeds of a pomegranate. We eat the heads of fishes because we don’t want to be a tail.”
Day of atonement
The following week is Yom Kippur, which, Steiger said, is a more serious day for the Jewish community.
“Yom means day and Kippur means atonement, so it is literally the day of atonement, and we observe it through much fasting and prayer,” Steiger said. “It is a day we are compared to angels. We dress in white and ask God for forgiveness.”
On Sunday, Sept. 9, Chabad of Park City invites the public to celebrate Rosh Hashana at the City Park recreation center, 1400 Sullivan Road. The congregation will also walk over to Poison Creek to pray and blow the shofar. Both services are open to the public. For more information, visit Chabad of Park City’s website at http://www.jewishparkcity.com.
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