Jews will be celebrating a new beginning next week. They will also be reflecting on the past.
The High Holy Days or Days of Awe begin at sundown Sept. 28 with Rosh Hashanah and are completed 10 days later on Oct. 8 when Yom Kippur is observed.
Rabbi Audrey Korotkin of Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Josh Wohl of Agudath Achim Congregation said the importance of the days could be compared to Christmas and Easter on the Christian calendar.
Although Hanukkah and Passover may be better known, the High Holy Days are more significant, Korotkin said.
"They are holy, solemn days. They are days of celebration and reflection," she said.
Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.
"It is a time of renewal and rebirth," Korotkin said. "We give ourselves a chance to start fresh," she said.
It also is a time of repentance.
"It is a time for Jews to come to the synagogue, to reflect on the past year," Wohl said. "Just as an accountant looks at the books, we look at the soul."
He said the Jewish word for repentance means to return.
"We come together to ask God to forgive us," Wohl said.
He said it is also a time to ask forgiveness of others and "to change our lives to become better Jews."
Korotkin said the 10-day period is "an awesome opportunity God gives us to do self-reflection and to consider ways to change our lives."
She said although people can reflect on their lives at any time, the liturgy, music and mood in the service assist with the process.
"People are drawn to the service," she said.
Korotkin called the musical setting and language of the prayers powerful.
"People seriously think about themselves and their behavior and how they relate to others," she said.
If they have done something against God, they can seek atonement, but if they have done something against a person, they need to seek forgiveness from the person they have wronged, she said.
Then they need to put together an action plan so it does not happen again, Korotkin said.
In preparation for the High Holy Days, the shofar is blown at Sabbath services for about a month in advance.
"It's sounded to wake you up to the importance of the day," Wohl said. "It's a call to action."
Korotkin said there are three major themes of the shofar.
It symbolizes God's sovereignty, remembrance of God's relationship with people and the time of the shofar, its place in history as well as its purpose in heralding a messianic age, she said.
The Scripture from Genesis 22 where Abraham sacrifices a ram in place of his son Isaac is read on Rosh Hashanah and the shofar or ram's horn is symbolic of faithfulness and sacrifice.
As an additional way to prepare holidays, Agudath Achim is holding a special service Saturday evening in a congregant's home.
Wohl said he is introducing the service as way to make people feel comfortable.
"It's a more intimate atmosphere [than in the synagogue] in a home," he said. "It allows people to express their feelings."
The Sabbath that occurs during the 10-day period is a time to consider that Yom Kippur is coming.
"All the preaching will focus on Yom Kippur," Wohl said.
Yom Kippur is a day of fasting with services held in the synagogue and Temple.
Wohl said with special services are held for the children as they also are on Rosh Hashanah.
During the afternoon service, people will tell what Judaism means to them.
"They speak from the heart," Wohl said. "It is the favorite part of the holiday."