DUNWOODY, Ga. — The local Jewish community will gather Sept. 7 to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Hebrew calendar new year. The holiday, Hebrew for “head of the year,” starts a 10-day period of atonement, self-reflection and charity service. The period ends on Yom Kippur, a fasting day considered most sacred in Judaism.

The High Holy Days are the most attended and meaningful services of the year, often drawing hundreds. As the pandemic surged last year, observations moved online or in limited, social distanced gatherings.

Concerns for safe observation have not disappeared as the number of COVID infections rise nationwide. That concern led Temple Emanu-El in Dunwoody to offer four services on Sept. 7.

“For many people, this will be their first service at the sanctuary in two years, certainly for everybody it’s going to be a first high holidays back in the sanctuary since COVID,” Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El Spike Anderson said. “I expect physically being in the space with all the symbolism, connections and the live experience of prayer is going to be powerful and overwhelming in a good way.”

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A morning service will be held at the synagogue from 8 to 9:15 a.m. for only the vaccinated. Two services will be held at the Brook Run Park Amphitheater from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. for children aged 3 to 8 and from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. for families. The final service will be held back at the synagogue from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m.

The indoor services require a mask. Social distancing is asked at the outdoor services.

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, a center of sports, recreation and Jewish education in Dunwoody, is preparing High Holy Day programming.

“Our preschool classes started learning about Rosh Hashanah this week — reading books about the Jewish New Year and learning all about the sights and smells that represent the holiday,” MJCCA Chief Marketing Office Keely Sime said. “We wish our entire community a happy, healthy and sweet new year.”

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Rosh Hashanah traditions include eating apples dipped in honey symbolizing a new and sweet year and blowing bursts from a ram’s horn shofar meant to promote spiritual awakening. The greeting, l’shona tova tikatevu, wishes for inscription (in the book of life) for a good year.

The MJCCA is closed on Sept. 8, 9 & 16 for High Holy Day observance.

“This year, especially, we are reminded there is so much beyond our control,” MJCCA Rabbi Brian Glusman said. “The High Holiday liturgy emphasizes the power and strength of community. While we can’t control the course of nature, we can find comfort and support among people: family, friends and community.”

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