LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Jews will begin the observance of Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year, at sundown Wednesday.
Rosh Hashana is "metaphorically the birthday of the world" and a "time of new beginnings, of second chances," said Rabbi Laura Geller, the senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.
In preparation for the new year, Jews conduct what is known in Hebrew as "Cheshbon HaNefesh," an "accounting of the soul," Geller said.
"We are to look at the lives we have lived in the past year and decide from whom we need to ask forgiveness, whom we to need forgive, what we need to let go of and what we need to bring with us into the new year," Geller said.
Rosh Hashana is a festive time when Jews gather with family members to reflect on the past year and the new one that is beginning. Celebrants also eat festive meals featuring apples dipped in honey, symbolic of the wishes for a sweet year.
A round challah, a loaf of bread, is used, rather than the customary twisted one, to symbolize that "the year is round," Geller said.
Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the "10 Days of Awe" leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Judaism's most solemn and somber day. Jewish tradition holds that God records the fate of humankind in the Book of Life during the High Holy Days.
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