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August 30, 2013

Local temple observes Days of Awe

PLATTSBURGH — The Torahs’ vibrant covers will be switched out for rich, white covers emblazoned with gold thread, Hebrew script and the Shield of David during the High Holidays at Temple Beth Israel.

The two-day observance of Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday, Sept. 4, at sundown. Translated from the Hebrew, it means “Head of the Year” and references the start of the Jewish year.

On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13 and 14, Jews observe Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement,” which commemorates God’s forgiveness of Jews for the sin, creation and worship of the Golden Calf.

The High Holidays, also known as Days of Awe, are Jews’ most important holiday season.

“The only other thing that comes close is Passover,” said Rabbi Kari Tuling of Temple Beth Israel in Plattsburgh. 

“Wednesday through Friday is the celebration of the New Year for the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is built on a lunar cycle that is corrected according to the solar cycle. It’s a very old calendar that dates back before the Middle Ages.”

New Year rituals include the congregation crowning of God as sovereign.

“It’s a way of acknowledging that God is in control of our lives in the sense that we don’t get to determine how long or under what circumstances we live and die. Some things are in our control. Whether or not we sin is in our control,” Tuling said.

There is a 10-day period of reflection prior to Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.

“We ask forgiveness for having fallen short of the mark. What is supposed to happen (is) if you committed a sin that involved another person, you have to go and ask that person’s forgiveness. And then, you ask forgiveness of God. That’s why you need the period of refection, so you can think (of) who you need to call. Who do I need to set things right with? It may seem strange to have New Year and ask for forgiveness 10 days into it. The reason for that is in the New Year, we are acknowledging God as in charge. If I’m not the one running things and I answer to someone, then I should set things straight,” Tuling said.

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