Temple begins holy days with self-reflection

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – At sundown Wednesday night Jews in Tupelo joined their brethren worldwide in beginning a 10-day period of self-examination that signals the most sacred time of their religious year.
Jews mark a day from sundown to sundown, and Wednesday night members of Temple B’nai Israel observed Rosh Hashanah, otherwise known as the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of the seventh month on the Jewish lunar calendar and marks the start of the High Holy Days.
For Jews, Rosh Hashanah provides a point of reference for planning and scheduling, much as New Year’s Day does on the Gregorian Calendar.
According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah also commemorates Yahweh’s creation of the universe and humankind, which is recorded in scripture.
Much like Lent for Christians, or Ramadan for Muslims, the High Holy Days are a time when Jews reflect upon the past year and pray that their names will be inscribed in the Book of Life.
“This is, of course, a metaphorical understanding,” said Marc Perler, a lay leader at Temple B’nai Israel, where Wednesday night, as they’ve done for more than 50 years, the Reformed Jewish community marked the observance with readings and reflection upon the Torah.
The High Holy Days are a period during which Jews consider how they’ve fallen short of the ideal to which God calls them.
“How have I – knowingly or unknowingly – wronged someone,” asked Perler, explaining the mind-set with which Jews approach the High Holy Days.
“How can I make things right, both with my brother and with God?”
Temple member Bob Schwartz explained that the High Holy Days shouldn’t be considered a dark event. “It’s also a joyous time,” said Schwartz. “We consider how we can approach the new year with a renewed spirit.”
This morning Leonard Shane will blow the shofar, a traditional Jewish instrument made from a ram’s horn. Tradition and the Torah record Jews blowing the shofar at high points in their history, including the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Battle of Jericho.
“It’s a call to awakening to our own sinfulness, and it’s the sound of Rosh Hashanah,” said Shane, who this morning will blow four distinct sounds on the horn. Saturday night Shane will blow one long, continuous sound marking the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the end of the High Holy Days.

Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.