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Faithful prepare to observe traditional Jewish New Year
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Mike Cohen, far right, leads a Rosh Hashana prayer at Camp Coleman in Cleveland.

Shalom B’harim Synagogue

What: Rosh Hashana celebration

When: 10:30 a.m. Friday

Where: URJ Camp Coleman, 201 Camp Coleman Drive, Cleveland

More info: 770-297-1058 or shalombharim.org

Rosh Hashana is a celebration that marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, but it's also a serious time to take a look at individual actions from the year before and make amends.

"I always refer to it as Jewish group therapy," said Mitch Cohen, the synagogue assistant at Shalom B'harim in Dahlonega. "We actually started three weeks ago, which is a period of self reflection. We look at our relationships, we look at our goals, promises and agreements that we made last year and start to really do the in-depth assessment."

"And then we come to the two days of Rosh Hashana where we have a series of services that begin the process of opening up our hearts."

The holiday is at sunset on Wednesday and will be celebrated Thursday and Friday. Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance, which finish at the end of Yom Kippur on Sept. 18.

At Shalom B'harim the services are done a little different to accommodate the congregants' schedules.

"We do our service Friday, which is the second day of Rosh Hashana, because a lot of the members go back to Atlanta and go to synagogue with their families, so we always do the second day," Cohen said. The synagogue will meet for the holiday on Thursday at Camp Coleman in Cleveland. Cohen said they have chosen the camp for years because of convenience and the setting.

"There's a chapel in the woods and we like that, to be in nature," he said.

As far as for the Rosh Hashana service, it begins in the morning and ends in the afternoon. The prayer book called the "Makhzor" is read during the service and a shofar, a hollowed out ram's horn, is blown at the start of the service.

"It (Rosh Hashana) really gives us a set liturgy and a set structure for all of use together to make that assessment, as a community and as an individual," he said.

Along with a day of services and reflection, a large meal is typically enjoyed at the end of the day.

Apples and honey, pomegranates, brisket, challah and honey cake are all typical items on the Rosh Hashana table.

Stanley Applebaum, a member of Shalom B'harim since 2001, said that the holiday dinner is pretty traditional.

"It could be a variety of things ... it's within the bounds of being kosher, no milk products. Could be baked chicken, roast, brisket," he said. "It's about the gathering; if it was toast and water I would still have fun."

Applebaum added that he anticipates the holiday each year.

"It's the beginning of the new year, it's cleansing," he said. "It's a chance for reflection. Sins against man are between you and man, sins against God are between you and God. It is supposed to be a yearly event because we don't have a process by accepting a certain standard that says we are free from our sins."

 

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