Preparations are under way here for the Jewish New Year on the 24th!
For observant Jews, this period before the New Year observation is marked by special penitential prayers recited before the regular morning prayers.
The blowing of the ram's horn, called a 'shofar' in Hebrew, happens after the morning prayer service.
Jews of different areas sometimes do things differently to add a bit of flare.
North African and Middle Eastern Jews began to recite these special prayers early, a few days before the holiday comes.
Jews of European origin began to recite them very early this morning!
These special prayers are said daily, except on the New Year holiday itself,
and last until the day before Yom Kippur – which follows ten days after the New Year.
Despite the spiritual beginnings to the day, the rest of it can be quite hectic as people rush the overstuffed super markets and catch up on things like paying bills and updating permits…
But when Rosh Hashanah (New Year in Hebrew) comes there will be largely quite during the two day observance marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.
Then it's off to socializing and food – and a bit of nature!
In Synagogues the main event of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers.
Here in the Old City of Jerusalem we will hear it throughout the day as friends and families gather together.
The Old Testament observance for the New Year can be found in Leviticus 23:23-25.
When visiting one's home, there will be one special custom observed.
This is the eating of apple slices dipped in honey which symbolizes the hope that the coming year will be “sweet.”
The other big custom associated with the 'new start' is the going to a natural source of flowing water like an ocean, river, or spring, and reading a selection of scripture followed by the casting of pieces of bread into the water.
All this is meant to symbolize the “casting off” of ones previous year's sins. (You can look this up in Micah 7:19).
So with the conflict over with Gaza, and the children back in school, the nation will now celebrate it's new year with peace – and hopefully it will remain so for the coming year and beyond.
Middle East Correspondent