Three congregations mark High Holy Days in different ways


If it is the Judean calendar that adorns your walls, it is time to shout, “Happy New Year.”

The High Holy Days, the most important time of the year and a season of celebration and reflection, dawns upon those of the Jewish faith this week.

The month of September marks the High Holy Days, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, and local congregations are not without plenty of opportunities to worship and recognize the most sacred time of year. Congregation Beth El, Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Adat Yeshurun have full slates to welcome the year 5765 and recognize the Day of Atonement.

“It’s a season of faith and reflection,” said Congregation Beth El Rabbi Phillip Graubart. “They are not incompatible. True joy comes from the ability to reflect upon yourself and repair relationships.”

The High Holy Days kick off with Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. Erev Rosh Hashanah - New Year’s Eve - begins on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 15, and continues until sundown Friday. All three congregations will have services on Erev Hashanah and all day on each of the next two days, except Beth Israel on Friday, Sept. 17.

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second day of the Jewish month of Tishri. It is one of the holiest days of the year and is a time to look back as well as forward. Most of the time during Rosh Hashanah is spent worshiping in temple.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by Yom Kippur, which begins with Yom Kippur Eve - known also as Erev Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre or Kol Nidrie - on Friday, Sept. 24, and concludes at sundown on Saturday.

Yom Kippur is the Judean Day of Atonement and occurs on the 10th day of Tishri and is the holiest Jewish holiday. It’s marked by fasting, refraining from work and attending temple. Yom Kippur is a time to atone for the sins that afflict one’s soul.

“It’s a time of both (reflection and celebration),” said Congregation Adat Yeshurun assistant Rabbi Jordan Brumer. “It’s a time of reflection of the past year and that God is watching us. It’s a joyous time to know that there is a benevolent God watching over us.”

Congregants who don’t step inside temple all year also come out to observe the High Holy Days. For many, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are opportunities for congregation members to reconnect with their faith.

“This is a time of year more people come to service,” said Rabbi Graubart. “It is a community gathering, a reunion of sorts. People also come to services to get a feel for different synagogues.”

The High Holy Days also offer an opportunity for curious people to explore and learn more about Judaism. Beth El, Beth Israel and Adat Yeshurun all are offering special services or free classes for newcomers with hopes that those new- comers may someday join the congregation.

“It’s definitely a time that we see a higher attendance than other times of the year,” said assistant Rabbi Brumer, whose congregation is offering a special class for beginners. “It can serve as a spring board.”

Beth El is a conservative synagogue, Beth Israel reform , and Adat Yeshurun is orthodox. As the titles may suggest, there are slight differences between how the various temples operate. With an orthodox service, men and women are not allowed to worship together. Conservative offers a more traditional service than reform, which recognizes only one day of Rosh Hashanah.

“A conservative service in general has more Hebrew and traditional practices than a reform service,” said Rabbi Graubart. “Unlike an orthodox service, men and women can participate as equals.”

However, all are observing the High Holy Days equally.

“It really doesn’t differ other than the services in seating,” said assistant Rabbi Brumer. “There is not a difference in the celebration in the service of the holiday.”

Congregation Beth El is at (858) 452-1734, Congregation Beth Israel’s number is (858) 535-1111 and the Web site is Congregation Adat Yeshurun can be contacted via (858) 535-1196 or