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L'Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year)!

Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community is preparing to celebrate the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, with safety precautions in place

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah began at sunset on Sunday, September 25.

In Hebrew, "rosh" means "head." The prefix "ha" means "the," and "shanah" means "year." Therefore, Rosh Hashanah means "Head of the Year" and represents the celebration of the beginning of the Jewish New Year. L'Shanah Tovah Tikateiv Veteichateim is the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting, wishing others a good year, and it is often shortened to "L'Shanah Tovah" (Good Year).

Rosh Hashanah is considered the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. It is the birthday of mankind, highlighting the special relationship between G-d and humanity. Orthodox Jews use G-d because they believe that God's name is holy and should not be said by humans.

Normally, as the old year goes out, observers start the holiday by going to the synagogue the evening before Rosh Hashanah and come home to have a Yom Tov (holiday) meal.

Much of the day will be spent in synagogue or in services online, and because it is considered to be one of the five major holidays, observers cannot drive, work, turn on any electric lights or light a new fire. Also, from 10:00am - 3:00pm, observers generally do not drink or eat anything.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the ram's horn, known as the shofar. In northern Bed-Stuy and parts of Crown Heights, you may notice very large crowds of Hasidic Jews gathering at select synagogues at around 12:00pm - 12:30pm, the approximate time of the sounding of the shofar.

The cry of the shofar is a call to repentance, as the holiday is also the anniversary of man's first sin and his subsequent repentance. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah also serves as the first of the "Ten Days of Repentance" which will culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

For New Yorkers wishing to hear the shofar during Rosh Hashanah, UJA-Federation of New York's Shofar Across Brooklyn will feature nearly 20 outdoor locations in central and northern Brooklyn where synagogues and organizations will sound the shofar on Tuesday, September 27, at 5:00pm.

"It is a mitzvah to hear the call of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, and we're excited to bring our community together to partake in this ritual," said Rebecca Saidlower, executive director of community mobilizers at UJA.

"Thanks to the nearly 20 participating organizations in Shofar Across Brooklyn, we're offering several opportunities for our neighbors to do so."

People are encouraged to keep checking the Shofar Across Brooklyn website for updates and to contact the organizations directly with any questions.

For those seeking to celebrate the High Holidays with services, UJA's Find A Service guide lists nearly 70 synagogues offering virtual, in-person, and hybrid services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

A blessing that is common for Rosh Hashanah is: Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." This saying is the equivalent of Isaiah 54:17 in the Bible, which states, "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper."

And as with every major Jewish holiday, the women and girls will light candles on each evening of Rosh Hashanah and recite the appropriate prayers. After the prayers each night and morning, they recite Kiddush on wine, make a blessing over the challah, and finally, enjoy a festive repast.