Blowing the shofar at Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla. Image courtesy Beth Israel

The 5782nd year in the Jewish calendar begins at sundown on Monday, Sept. 6, with socially distanced Rosh Hashanah 2021 services at most San Diego-area congregations amid the pandemic.

Congregation Beth Israel, the largest Jewish congregation in San Diego and the oldest in Southern California, is holding services in its sanctuary, courtyard and online to help congregants “navigate the new normal” of COVID-19.

Rosh Hashanah means literally “head of the year” in Hebrew. It marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination, and repentance ending with Yom Kippur, which is known as the Day of Atonement.

The year begins at sundown because the ancient Jewish calendar is based on phases of the moon.

Customs observed on Rosh Hashanah include sounding the shofar, a musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, and eating apples and honey for a sweet new year.

Tashlich, another practice associated with Rosh Hashanah, is a ceremony in which Jews symbolically cast away their sins by tossing pieces of bread into a flowing body of water, with many congregations meeting at local beaches.

The San Diego Jewish Journal provides an online listing of 2021 high holiday services at local congregations.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.