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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cayman Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Zalman Shneur blows the shofar, which is a ram’s horn, for the Jewish New Year with Rabbi Daniel Denburg.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Local Jewish residents had the opportunity to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year with visiting Rabbis from the Chabad Lubavitch organization. Rabbis Daniel Denburg and Zalman Shneur, from new York, hosted an orthodox service, song and kosher food at the Marriott Resort Grand Cayman on 3 October, the eve of the celebration.
There were numerous medical students at St Matthews University School of Medicine who wanted to celebrate the Jewish New Year and as a result they contacted Chabad Lubavitch, a non-profit Jewish organization, which sponsors rabbis to visits rurul Jewish communities all over the world.
Consequently, Chabad Lubavitch sent Rabbis Denburg and Shneur to come to the Cayman Islands to lead services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for the small Jewish community here.
Rabbi Shneur explained that services and the meal were according to the Jewish Orthodox traditions, but anyone who was interested in coming could participate even if they were not Jewish.
“Our goal is to assist Jews in any way possible in humanitarian ways especially with the religious services, such as the high holy days,” said Rabbi Shneur.
“The students wanted to do something nice so we will have a nice service and a kosher meal to begin the New Year. And it will be good for the Jewish people,” he said just before the celebrations began on Monday.
He explained that within the Jewish tradition the start of the New Year is at sun down. This year the Jewish community is celebrating the year 5766. Rosh Hashanah literally means head or first of the year in Hebrew, and although the celebrations are unlike those in the Christian calendar, it is seen as a time for new beginnings and resolutions. The Jewish New Year is a time to begin Introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year, and planning to the changes to make in the New Year.
During the celebrations a ram’s horn called a shofar is blown and prayers in Hebrew and English are spoken.
The service lasts about 45 minutes, which is then followed by a meal consisting of traditional foods such as the head of the fish, carrots and apples. Rabbi Shneur said the head of fish is eaten because Jews want to be leaders so they should eat the head and not the tail. Apples represent the original sin so dipping them in something sweet symbolizes making the world pure.
“We eat a pomegranate, because they have a lot of seeds and when we want to be many. We eat carrots, which is called mer’n in Yiddish, which means more. So eating carrots means we want more,” he said.
The Rabbi was expecting 20 to 30 people for the service, but said he was happy to welcome more people.
The Rabbis will also be holding services for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on 12 and 13 October next week before returning to New York.
Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom, will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. It is a day to set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. The day is said to be a Jew’s last appeal, or the last chance to demonstrate repentance and make amends.
Anyone wishing to attend the Yom Kippur services may contact the rabbis at the Marriott or by email at zalmie@gmail.com.

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