Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — Repenting and asking forgiveness of friends and loved ones is very good for the relationship, a Salt Lake rabbi said.
The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Wednesday night. During the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, Jews are encouraged to seek out those they may have hurt in the previous year, repent, and prepare to work on renewing the relationship, Congregation Kol Ami’s Rabbi Illana Schwartzman said.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. They are two separate holidays that make up the high holy days — the most important of all Jewish holidays. They are connected by the “Days of Awe.,” a time that begins with Jews “envisioning the life we’d like to have in the coming year, and then making amends for the (sinful) things we’ve done in the past” Schwartzman said.
“If we Jews sin against God, God forgives us,” Schwartzman said. “But if we sin against people, we must talk to them before our sins are forgiven. It’s both a mental and physical exercise.”
It’s often not an easy one.
“(Making amends) requires humility,” the rabbi said, “and often those we must ask forgiveness of are those in our lives who are the hardest to speak to.”
The exercise has taught Schwartzman a lot about relationships, she said, and is a very significant part of her life.
“Often if we were mean to someone on purpose it’s because at the time we thought they deserved it, Schwartzman said. “We have to work to make the connection.”
In her own life, Schwartman said she’s found it good to have a reset button once a year. She’s found asking someone else’s forgiveness sometimes gives them the opportunity to explain how they were hurt or to say they’re sorry for any fault they may have had in the situation.
While it’s best to make amends as soon as possible, Schwartzman recognizes that sometimes it takes longer that a year before a person is ready to ask forgiveness.
And that’s OK too, she said.
“It’s always good to reach out to those we need to say ‘I’m sorry’ to. It’s never too late,” she said.
At the end of Rosh Hashanah, Schwartzman like to tell her congregation, “I hope you make different mistakes next year,” she said. “Everyone makes mistakes, but if they’re different than it shows we’re changing, growing.”
Many Jews who don’t regularly attend services participate in the high holy days. Often, it’s to make amends with others, and sometimes it’s to see friends they haven’t seen in a while.
“Whatever the reason, I love that the Jewish community comes together,” Schwartzman said.
The holiday may be best known for the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn). Blowing the horn is the only commandment specified. It heralds the beginning of the high holy days.
Four Rosh Hashanah services will be held at Congregation Kol Ami, 2425 Heritage Way, Salt Lake City, on Thursday, Sept. 5; two at 9 a.m., one at 10:30 a.m. and an evening service at 8 p.m. Yom Kippur services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 9 and 10:30 a.m., 6, 7, 7:40 and 8:30 p.m.