By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur represent a time of forgiveness, a time for starting anew, and a time for community.
"These are two of our most significant holidays, because they coincide with how we live our lives," said Rabbi Barry Baron, an Army chaplain who is visiting Fort Hood to conduct services to the Kol Kehillat Hood Congregation during the High Holidays.
Any thinking person will take this time during the high holidays to reflect on their life and their role in the world, Baron said.
Rosh Hashanah, which started on Sept. 8, represents the Jewish new year.
"The first day is Rosh Hashanah, and you are not only saying happy birthday, but also I have sins," said Para Rabbinic Larry Cohen, of the Reform Jewish Congregation Simcha Sinai in Harker Heights.
It is part of the Jewish tradition to have this strong notion that people as individuals affect each other and our relationship with God, Baron said.
"As we start a new year, we take responsibility for our own shortcomings and our community," Baron said.
The next 10 days, the Ten Days of Penitence, are spent seeking forgiveness for those you may have wronged, Baron said.
This time period provides most with a time to think about their lives and realize what did and could happen during the next year, said Cantorial Soloist Sylvia Turner, with the Reform Jewish Congregation Simcha Sinai.
"To me what the days of awe do is, it is really a time to think about my life and really take stock, I guess," Turner said. "And I think about how do I want to be better. It is a time to think about the impact I have on the world. It is a time to focus on that."
Yom Kippur, which started Friday, brings this time to a close with a time of fasting and a congregational prayer, Cohen said.
Yom Kippur creates a "total spiritual experience" by using the fasting and coupling it with the white dress that Jews traditionally wear when they are to be buried, Baron said.
The white signifies a symbolism of angels, but it is also showing us to God as we would appear to Him on the day of our death, Baron said.
During the prayers, the congregation is asking God for forgiveness, Cohen said.
"I will go before God and say I have made all these promises," Cohen said. "... After we all ask for the forgiveness."
There is a portion of the service built into Yom Kippur services for mourning and remembering those who have died, so those people are not lost to the community, Cohen said.
Yom Kippur also represents a time that God knows who is going to live through the next year and who is not, who is going to be successful and who is not, Cohen said. This ties back to seeking forgiveness and thinking about the future.
"The service frees you from your pent-up anger," Staff Sgt. Lennette Wells, with the 69th Air Defense Brigade. "It helps you to move on with your life instated of being stuck in your anger. It also gives a sense of community because you are not doing this as an individual."
Much like Christmas or Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are two of the most attended holidays by those in the Jewish faith, Baron said.
"Our lives are busy," Kol Kehillat Hood Congregation Lay-Leader Edith Freyer said. "It is very hard for (people and specially soldiers) to get to services, but is very important and specially during the holiday that they have their identity and for them to know that (the congregation) is here for them."
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.