Dr. Steven Bell, a professor of psychology and member of the Rodeph Sholom congregation in Rome, said marking the day is not just the celebration of a new year but can also be translated as “a beginning of change.”
“You make new year’s resolutions, that’s exactly what the kernel of Rosh Hashana is,” Bell said.
The holiday is also called the Feast of the Trumpets.
Traditionally, the blowing of the ram’s horn, or Shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashana, and summons those of the Jewish faith to religious services. Rosh Hashana is meant to be a joyous day spent with family.
“Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the two book ends of the High Holy days, you’re required to go to every person you may have offended and seek their forgiveness,” Bell said. Yom Kippur falls on Sept. 28 this year and is known as the day of atonement.
He said one year he had to ask forgiveness of Gloria Shatto, the late president of Berry College, after telling an embarrassing story about the college in front of her and the Board of Trustees.
“Come Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I called and I had to go to her and I asked for her forgiveness,” Bell said. “It was a hard thing to do, but that’s what this holy day requires Jews to do.”
Congregation member Shelly Peller said that her family celebrates with a meal and by looking into their own lives and actions from throughout the past year. She also said attendance at the synagogue on First Street goes up during this time of year.
“We have a lot of preparation for the holiday as far as the synagogue goes,” Peller said. “The rabbi comes into town, and we expect a larger than normal attendance during the high holidays. Frequently you have children return home from college.”
The Jewish calendar, according to Bell, begins on the third day of Genesis, when the sun and moon were created.
“The way we define a day (is) the passage of the sun or the moon throughout the month,” he said. “Time is not really there in the first two days of Genesis, so the first two days could have been 100 billion years.”