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Jewish Houses of Worship in Pasadena Celebrate Rosh Hashanah Starting Friday At Sundown

Published on Friday, September 15, 2023 | 5:53 am

The two primary Jewish houses of worship in Pasadena, Chabad of Pasadena and the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, celebrate Rosh Hashanah festivities and services starting at sundown on Friday, Sept. 15.

Rosh Hashanah, commencing on the eve of Tishrei 1 (Sept. 15, 2023 on the common calendar) and concluding on Tishrei 2 (Sept. 17), marks the Jewish New Year and celebrates the creation of Adam and Eve. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that marks the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar year. 

Occurring at the start of the month of Tishrei, it is a time for both celebration and introspection, following a month of spiritual preparation during Elul. 

Rosh Hashanah starts the Ten Days of Repentance, which conclude with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. 

This spiritually significant holiday is heralded by the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn, during morning services – except on Shabbat. Traditional feasts feature round challah bread and apples dipped in honey, symbolizing hopes for a prosperous and sweet year ahead. 

Candle lighting and abstaining from creative work are other key observances during the holiday. 

Some of the key Jewish customs during Rosh Hashanah include the “Challah,” a traditional Jewish bread baked in a round shape to symbolize the eternal cycle of life; consumption of apples and honey to signify hope for a sweet new year, and the Machzor, a special High Holy Day prayer book containing prayers for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

Also during Rosh Hashanah, “Shofar,” a ram’s horn, is blown during prayers to remind people of their covenant with God. The other significant tradition is “Tashlich,” a symbolic casting away of sins. During “Tashlich,” people go to a body of running water and throw bread crumbs into it while reciting specific prayers.

At  Chabad of Pasadena, the schedule of Rosh Hashanah Services begins Friday with a candlelighting ceremony at 6:41 p.m., Mincha/Maariv at 6:45 p.m. followed by a community dinner. This dinner is particularly specific to Rosh Hashanah, said Rabbi Chaim Hanoka, executive director of Chabad of Pasadena. 

“Rosh Hashanah itself has a number of foods which are unique to the dinner itself,” Rabbi Hanoka said. “All sort of representative of sweeteners and God giving us in a sweeter year. For example, something called mehren like sweet carrots, which is commonly used in the Yiddish translation of the word mehren, a Yiddish word which comes from the word more, whether it should be a blessing, increased blessing, more blessing, and various other foods. Also, again, each one of them has a connection to the concept of sweetness, health, abundance, etc.” 

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Shacharit begins at 10 a.m. and a Children’s Service begins at 11 a.m. led by Rabbi Laibel Hanoka Kiddush. Lunch follows the services, and then Mincha/Maariv occurs at 6:40 p.m. followed by a candlelighting ceremony after 7:35 p.m. 

Sunday, Sept. 17, features Shacharit at 10 a.m., a Children’s Service at 11 a.m. led by Rabbi Laibel Hanoka. Shofar Blowing occurs at 11:45 a.m. In the afternoon, Mincha Services will be held at 5:15 p.m. followed by Tashlich walk to Cal-Tech at 6 p.m. The holiday ends at 7:34 p.m.

The Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center considers Rosh Hashanah as a time to reflect on the past year’s joys and lessons, to seek forgiveness for transgressions, and to set goals for the coming year. It is believed that God begins to judge individuals during this time, with the judgment sealed on Yom Kippur.

At the PJTC, Rosh Hashanah will begin on the evening of Friday, Sept. 15 and end on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 17. Observances include festive foods, prayer services, and the blowing of the shofar.

Erev Rosh Hashanah, which ushers in the holiday, is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, Sept. 16, services for Rosh Hashanah begin at 9 a.m. followed by a Torah Service at 10:30 a.m. 

“Our community embraces all who seek sanctuary and friendship. We welcome people from every background no matter their familiarity with services or tradition,” Rabbi Ben Goldstein at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center said.

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