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Rosh Hashanah Kicking Off

Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday night at sundown, but unlike the secular New Year, it is not celebrated with the drop of a crystal ball. "Rosh Hashanah is a very holy holiday," said Rabbi Yossi Pollak of Beit Chaverim Synagogue in Westport. "It is the beginning of the High Holidays, a time of judgment and reflection."

Beit Chaverim draws worshipers from neighboring towns.

The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the Jewish High Holidays. And although Rosh Hashanah marks its beginning, it is not a somber occasion.

"Because it is the New Year, Rosh Hashanah really is a time when you look forward to the future," Pollak said. "Similar to the concept of making resolutions, it's a time when you think about how you're going to live better and what you're going to do to be a better person in the New Year."

An important step in this process includes asking for forgiveness, both from God and from the people you have wronged in the past year. This focus on forgiveness is another aspect that makes the holiday joyous, Pollak said.

Rosh Hashanah runs through sundown Friday and is celebrated with the blowing of a shofar, an instrument usually made from a ram's horn.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue of Westport, Weston and Wilton said the blowing of the shofar is a tradition that serves as a reminder, or "wakeup call."

"As a Rabbi of mine once said, the sound of the shofar should invoke the same feeling you get when you're driving down the express way at 80 miles per hour and you see the flashing lights behind you," Wiederhorn said. "At that moment, you realize you need to change. The sound of the shofar is meant to do the same."

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