Different people celebrate New Year’s on different days. The most popular, the Christian New Year, begins Jan. 1; the Chinese New Year is usually celebrated in February; the celebration of the Jewish New Year, however, starts today at sundown.
“Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, the day that the completion of the creation happened,” said Yosef Rivkin, a member of the Tampa chapter of the National Council of Young Israel, an organization for orthodox Jews.
Rosh Hashanah happens every year at the beginning of the 10 High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim.
“(Yamim Noraim consists of) days of repentance or days of awe, in different translations,” said Uriel Rivkin, Yosef’s brother, and also a member of Young Israel as well as a rabbi.
The belief is that during these 10 days, God writes books about the lives of people on Earth — who will live, who will die and who will have a good year. The Christian year 2004 becomes year 5765 of the Jewish calendar.
Rosh Hashanah, as observed by orthodox Jews, lasts for two days, starting at sundown on the evening preceding the day of Rosh Hashanah. Several liberal Jewish denominations only observe the first day of the holiday.
As a rabbi, Rivkin usually hosts services at his house, making his garage into a synagogue; but for Rosh Hashanah, he was able to find rooms in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
Rivkin and Young Israel will hold three services for the holiday. The first service will be tonight, and the other two will be Thursday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. each day.
Part of the Rosh Hashanah tradition is the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn shaped into a trumpet.
The shofar, Yosef said, is a symbol of getting a new chance.
“Through the simple cry of the shofar, the Jews cry out to the father,” he said.
The 10 days end with Yom Kippur, the traditional day of fasting, repentance and prayer.