There is somberness and celebration in store as Northport's Jewish synagogues participate in High Holy Days observances that are thousands of years old in the making, but in some cases as new as the latest directives out of the EPA.
It all begins with Rosh Hashanah -- which marks the beginning of the year 5773 on the Jewish calendar -- followed in 10 days by Yom Kippur, a time of atonement and repentance.
High Holy Days observances continue with Sukkot, a week-long holiday that begins five days after Yom Kippur, and represents the Jewish people’s pilgrimage during their 40 years of travel in the desert.
Among the more well known features of the coming days? The blowing off the Shofar, an ancient call made from a ram’s horn that signals the New Year and approach of Yom Kippur; Tashlich, or the casting of sins on moving water; and the building of a temporary structure to mark Sukkot, “a pilgrimage festival,“ according to Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper of . “Now that a new year has come and we have atoned for our sins, we celebrate Sukkot to remind ourselves that life is a journey, and each year is a journey unto itself.”
For Beth El, (HJC), services will be held on both the evenings and mornings of Rosh Hashanah (Sept 16-17) and Yom Kippur (Sept 25/26). At East Northport Jewish Center there will by a morning service on Spet. 16 and both a morning and evening service on Sept. 17. See a full schedule in the attached PDF.
At HJC, there will be a cemetery service on Sunday, Sept 16. And on Sept 23, Tashlich casting of bread into moving water will be performed on the creek at the Huntington Village Green, among a grove of cherry trees planted in memory of Huntington residents who died in Vietnam.
For Temple Beth El, Tashlich has been modified in order to be more sensitive to modern day ecological awareness.
“Everyone is welcome to our Tashlich at Gold Star Battalion Beach, but you won’t see us throw bread crumbs into the harbor,” said Rabbi Clopper. “There are town regulations, but also it has a negative impact on the birds and fish. We couldn’t see marking Tashlich by committing a sin against nature.”
Their solution? “We ask people to bring a full loaf of bread, and we cast them into a large dry container still wrapped up,” he said. “Afterwards, we donate the loaves to a local food pantry or shelter.”
Whether the ceremonies are modernized or not, the underlying human meaning of the High Holy Days observances remain the same, however, As the beginning of the new year, said Clopper, they provide a time "to stand before God as a community. We celebrate the new year, we look for forgiveness of those we've wronged, and we celebrate the potential and hope of our coming journey. It's also a time of self-reflection -- how to better ourselves as human beings.”