The dates of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a little different than usual this year but they’re still on the same cycle, the lunar cycle, according to one of Temple Beth El’s acting rabbis, Irving Bloom.
The Hebrew calendar follows the lunar cycle, which follows the observations of the new moon, while the yearly calendar follows the solar cycle, Bloom said.
Temple Beth El’s other acting rabbi, David Baylinson, said the original creators of the Hebrew calendar instituted a plan of leap years to make sure holidays remained in their proper seasons.
Once every seven years, an entire month called Adar II is added to the calendar. Adar II comes just before Passover, the celebration of Jewish deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
“This is the year in the 19th year cycle that the High Holy Days are as early as can be,” Baylinson said.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, always occurs on the first day of the Jewish month, marked by a new moon. Yom Kippur, the Jewish “Day of Atonement,” always occurs on the 10th day of the Jewish month.
Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Sept. 4. Yom Kippur starts at sundown Sept. 13 and ends at sundown Sept. 14. The 10-day period between the two holidays is considered a time of self-improvement, Bloom said.
Sundown on Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of spiritual assessment, where people of the Jewish faith reflect on who they are, what they’ve been doing, where they are going and how they can right any wrongs they have committed in the past year.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar, marks the end of repentance. On Yom Kippur those of the Jewish faith fast and wear white.
“White is a symbol of spiritual purity,” Bloom explained.
The Jewish Torah, the holy scroll that consists of the first five books of the Bible, will also be dressed in white for the High Holy Days. As is the tradition, Bloom will read from the Torah, Leviticus 19, during temple services.
Verses 1 and 18 — the two most important verses, Bloom says — symbolize the theme of the 10-day period: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy, and Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.”
Staff Writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3553. On Twitter: @Mczebiniak_star.