At sundown on Sunday, Sept. 29, Jewish people in Vermont - and all over the world - will welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year of 5780.
Rosh Hashanah begins a sacred period known as the Days of Awe, culminating ten days later on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, beginning the evening of Oct. 8 and continuing throughout the day on Oct. 9.
The Days of Awe are regarded as a time of judgment, when people seek atonement and pray to have their names inscribed in a symbolic “Book of Life” for another year. On Yom Kippur, 24 hours are spent in prayer and contemplation, with no food or drink from 7 p.m. on Tuesday night until after sunset on Wednesday night.
Brattleboro's Congregation Shir Heharim's high holy day services will be led this year by Rabbi Lee Moore, the congregation's Interim spiritual leader.
Rabbi Lee is known for her accessible and meaningful prayer services. She was ordained by Hebrew College, a pluralistic seminary in Newton, Mass., and holds a Masters in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan.
Her Rosh Hashanah sermon will address “Regenerative Creation: Relating to Aliveness” and her Yom Kippur sermon is entitled “Facing Fear, a Portal to Love.” Several congregation members will assist in leading the highly interactive services.
Laura Berkowitz and Stephan Brandstatter, co-presidents of Congregation Shir Heharim (the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community), invite people to the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services this year - all of which will take place at the West Village Meeting House of All Souls Church on South Street in West Brattleboro.
Rosh Hashanah evening service begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29. Morning prayer resumes Monday, Sept. 30, at 9:30 a.m. Yom Kippur services begin on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m., with the beautiful and haunting Kol Nidre prayer. Services resume at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9. A Yizkor service to remember and honor departed loved ones will occur around 11:30 a.m.
In lieu of the traditional mussaf, or “additional” Yom Kippur service, Rabbi Lee will conduct a lightly-guided Forgiveness Meditation at 1 p.m. Sitting together in stillness and silence will offer the opportunity to go deeper into the season's great work of forgiving - both forgiving others and forgiving ourselves.
A late afternoon service begins at 5 p.m. with a reading from the Book of Jonah, followed by Neilah, the closing service, at 6 p.m. Neilah reflects the spiritual concept of the gates of heaven closing at sunset, giving the congregation a final chance to ask for forgiveness and to pray for life as the holy day comes to a close.
BAJC welcomes all to attend any of the high holy day services. All Hebrew prayers are transliterated so that people who don't read Hebrew can follow along and participate.