The chilling blasts of the ram's horn tonight will signal Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, for the world's Jews. Rosh Hashana, starting the Hebrew year 5775, opens the solemn 10-day period known as the High Holy Days.
Also called Yamim Noraim, or Days of Awe, the holy days are a pause in time when the faithful fast and pray for pardon from their sins over the past year. Jewish tradition says God scrutinizes each person, waiting to see who is worthy of good or bad fortune for the next year.
Liberal Jews likewise use the High Holy Days as a time to review their lives and resolve to be better persons. Area synagogues often rent community auditoriums to handle the overflow of worshipers who seldom attend temple otherwise.
The High Holy Days end this year on Oct. 4 with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. That day-long series of services ends with a final blast from the ram's horn, closing God's books and sealing everyone's fate for the year.
— James D. Davis