BAJC prepares for High Holy Days

BRATTLEBORO — At sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 4, Jewish people all over the world will welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year 5774, beginning a sacred period known as the Days of Awe that culminates 10 days later on Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement - observed this year on Sept. 14.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Because of differences between the secular solar calendar and the Hebrew lunar calendar, the first day of Tishrei can come in September or October; this year it arrives unusually early.

The Days of Awe are marked by contemplation, introspection, confession, and prayer.

Jews around the world reflect upon the past year, ask for forgiveness from family and friends, and seek reconciliation for any wrongful acts they might have committed, believing that once this is accomplished, forgiveness from God will follow.

The Days of Awe are regarded as a time of judgment, when Jews seek atonement and ask to be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.

Rosh Hashanah services of Congregation Shir Heharim (Song of the Mountains), the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4 at All Souls Church (the West Village Meeting House) on South Street in West Brattleboro, and continue the next day.

Those who wish to observe the traditional second day of services are welcome to attend at the congregation's own synagogue at 151 Greenleaf St., West Brattleboro, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 5.

Yom Kippur services on Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m., at the West Village Meeting House begin with the beautiful and haunting Kol Nidre prayer; the service continues the next morning at 9:30. Twenty-four hours are spent in prayer and contemplation, with no food or drink until after Ne'ilah, the closing service.

Ne'ilah begins at 6 a.m. and ends after sunset on Saturday. The long day comes to an end, with the Ne'ilah service portraying the Gates of Heaven slowly closing as the last prayers of atonement are offered to God.

All the Yom Kippur services are at All Souls Church (the West Village Meeting House). Services will be led by Kate Judd, the congregation's spiritual leader, assisted by members of the congregation.

Judd, a Brattleboro resident, is an advanced student in the Cantor Educator Program at Hebrew College in Newton, Mass. She has studied with several prominent cantors and rabbis and has a graduate performance degree in classical voice.

As a recitalist, oratorio soloist, and operatic soloist, she has performed throughout the New England area. She has served as a leader of services in several locations, including the Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life in Connecticut. She has taught in the BAJC Hebrew school for several years and served as the congregation's interim spiritual leader last year.

Members of the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, their guests, visitors, area residents, and students at area schools are welcome to attend all the services. Although tickets are not needed and no one will be turned away, the congregation depends upon donations from guests, suggesting $100 per person for each holiday.

Children under the age of 18 or area students are welcome without donations. Folks who are not members of BAJC are asked to make reservations by calling 802-464-2632. If possible, donations should be made in advance.

If a guest decides to become a member at any time after the holidays, the donation will be applied toward membership.

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