FAIRFIELD — The Jewish High Holidays continue this weekend with religious observances scheduled in both Vacaville and Vallejo. Here’s a look at the various High Holidays, and their significance.
Rosh Hashana means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew. Known as the “Jewish New Year,” the two-day festival marks the beginning of the “10 Days of Repentance” or “Days of Awe.” It is a time when Jews believe their name is inscribed in the “Book of Life.” It is also considered the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. A central observance is the blowing of the shofar, or ram’s horn. Another custom is the dipping of apples in honey, a call for a sweet year. It was observed this year Sept. 4-6.
Yom Kippur, also known as the “Day of Atonement,” marks the end of the “Days of Awe.” Full of solemn prayer, the day offers an opportunity for Jews to reflect on the past year and learn from their mistakes. Observant Jews will abstain from eating, drinking, bathing, working and marital relations. It is also customary to avoid wearing leather shoes. Observances started Friday and end at sundown Saturday.
Sukkot is a weeklong biblical holiday that commemorates the wandering of the Jewish people after escaping slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew word “sukkot” is the plural form of “sukkah,” which means “booth” or “tabernacle.” While wandering the desert for 40 years, the Israelites lived in makeshift structures covered in leafy vegetation. To observe the holiday, Jewish people will eat and even sleep in their own makeshift ”booths” to reminisce about biblical times. This year, the holiday starts Wednesday and lasts seven days.
Simchat Torah marks the end of the year’s cycle of Torah readings. Holiday services feature the reading of the final verses of Deuteronomy followed by the first verses of Genesis from the Old Testament to complete and start the Torah-reading cycle. After the services, the congregation celebrates with singing, dancing and mirth. The holiday is observed the day after Sukkot ends.
Congregation B’nai Israel