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Rosh Hashanah Begins Jewish High Holy Days

Dan Bammes
Congregation Kol Ami is Utah's largest synagogue

  The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, began Wednesday evening at Sunset.  It marks the beginning of the High Holy days, which culminate October 4th with Yom Kippur.

Laurence Loeb is the long-time cantor at Congregation Kol Ami, Utah’s largest synagogue.  It’s a combined Conservative and Reform congregation, with different services planned for those who have a more liberal or a more traditional focus.  Loeb says there’s always a pretty big crowd.

Loeb tells KUER, “There are some who find they need the tradition on the High Holy Days which they don’t need during the rest of the year, so we get more, not only from the more liberal but also from the more traditional wing.  People who don’t normally come during the year do come on the High Holy Days.”

Services for Rosh Hashana are held over two days, and begin with the sound of a ram’s horn. It’s a joyful holiday with lots of traditional food and other observances. But as Yom Kippur comes closer, Loeb says the focus changes as each person begins a spiritual and moral reckoning.

“It’s the time of year in which, as a community and as individuals, we reflect on our inadequacies, our attempts over the past year to achieve a better level of participation as Jews, a better level of observance and commitment," Loeb says.

The High Holy Days are also the time of the year when liturgical music is very important.  Services at Congregation Kol Ami will include the synagogue’s choir and organ. Loeb says they’ve been practicing since June to get ready.

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