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The Villages
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Celebrating the Jewish holidays in a time of change     

Susan Sirmai Feinberg

It is now September and that means back to school, in some form or other, and the beginning of the fall season. According to the Jewish Calendar, we are celebrating the start of the New Year 5781 and the observance of our High Holy Days and other Holidays commemorating the Harvest and beginning of the Torah Reading Cycle.

This  is the high point of our year at Temple Shalom of Central Florida. Since March and the start of the pandemic that necessitated closing our Temple for in-person services, we have moved to virtual services via Zoom. Our Temple used this time to upgrade and modernize our technical facilities to be ready for the Holidays and our services. Also, we participated in the Tri-County Interfaith Peace Partners Committee and Healing Services utilizing technology to connect to the entire community.

Dennis Roth, President of Temple Shalom of Central Florida and resident of the Village or Dunedin, extends his best wishes to the entire tri-county community during the Jewish High Holy Days. “This year has been a special and challenging one because of the Pandemic. Our Temple is working hard to bring Holiday Services to our Members, Guests and the entire Jewish community.  Our High Holy Day Prayer Services will embrace all the joy and emotion of the season. We will present all Services on-line starting with Selichot (the opening), which takes place the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah (celebrating the Jewish New Year) and continues through Yom Kippur (time of forgiveness and remembrance).  The power of the Holidays, its message of creation, renewal and self-reflection, is universal. We link ourselves in prayer, whether physically or electronically. These moments transcend the medium.  I look forward to sharing the Holidays with all.”

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein will lead all the high holiday services virtually from the Temple. We will have a combination of prayers, rituals, music and traditions that will enable sharing and interaction with our Temple Members, Friends and Guests. Rabbi Zev is assisted in planning by the Temple Ritual Committee led by Sandy Horowitz of Del Webb Spruce Creek and Stan Golove of the Village of Belvedere, along with a active Committee of 20 Temple Members.

This year we are inviting the entire community to join us for our High Holy Day Services. To check the schedule and join us online, please register on our web site www.tscfl.org and we will send you the contact details.

A Guide to the Jewish High Holidays

Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning “head [of] the year”, is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days that occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration. Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a cleaned-out ram’s horn), attending synagogue services and enjoying festive meals that include symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year.

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. It takes place 10 days after the New Year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

We continue our Holy Day activity with Sukkot commonly called the Festival of Shelters. During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple, it was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple. It marks the end of the harvest time and the agricultural year in the Land of Israel. It lasts seven days. The Sukkot is the plural of Sukkah which is a temporary walled structure covered with plant material, such as palm leaves, and hung with fruits and vegetables where meals are eaten and many people sleep there as well. Temple Shalom builds a Sukkah every year.

Temple Holiday Outreach Season Begins with Sukkot

Eight years ago, one of our Temple Members, Heinz Jaffe, moved into a Villages assisted living residence and asked if someone from the Temple could come to his facility and share holiday traditions with the Jewish residents and other interested people at the facility.

Sylvia Elinoff (Village of Hadley) is the current chairperson of the Temple Shalom Sisterhood Holiday Outreach Program. Over eight years the committee grew to 40 Sisterhood participants who share the Sukkot, Hanukkah and Passover Holidays with residents in 15 rehabilitation, assisted living, nursing and memory care centers around the tri-county area. The tambourines and song sheets are always there so that the residents and staff can sing along.

This year, we are creating a multimedia presentation since we cannot visit the facilities in person due to the pandemic. We will highlight the elements and symbols of holiday, describe the historical significance, perform the blessings in Hebrew and English, and talk about how the holiday is celebrated today with personal recollections including the special foods.

Simchat Torah: Oct. 9-11

After the seven joyous days of Sukkot, we come to the happy holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. We still dwell in the Sukkah, but without a blessing. Yizkor, the memorial for the departed, is also said on this day. The second day is known as Simchat Torah, when we complete and immediately begin the annual Torah reading cycle. This joyous milestone is marked with dancing as the Torah scrolls are held aloft. It is a chance to get up close and personal with the Torah. Both days are celebrated by nightly candle lighting and festive meals.

Temple Shalom of Central Florida is excited to share our holiday customs and traditions with the entire tri-county community. For more information and dates/times, check out our website at www.tscfl.org , or contact Temple Shalom

Susan Sirmai Feinberg is Temple Shalom’s marketing director.

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