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Scarsdale JCC Celebrates the Jewish New Year

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -Michael Witkes is gear up to celebrate the Jewish New Year when Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Wednesday.

“Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal,” said Witkes, interim executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester. “There is a 10 day period between it and Yom Kippur in which we are encouraged to do good deeds. Those days are very symbolic as it is a period of time in how we hope to emulate how to live our lives, for the rest of our life.”

The holiday marks the advent of the year 5,772. Between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is when God chooses who will live and who will die in the upcoming year, Jews believe. It is a period of self-reflection and repentance for Jews, who work to become better people in the new year.

The Jewish Community Center in Scarsdale kicked off its good deeds for the new year on Sept. 11 with a ‘Day of Chesed, Service, and Remembrance” program. Chesed is the Hebrew word for kindness. More than 1,300 people attended this day-long program in which they donated everything from clothing and toys to bone marrow and blood.

The program, which was created in honor of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, won a national grant award of $50,000 after competing against 140 organizations across the U.S.

“It was very much in keeping with Rosh Hashanah for us in committing acts of kindness for others,” Witkes said.

The JCC also extended its Rosh Hashanah teachings to a younger generation by working with the children in its daycare program.

“The kids are exposed to symbols of Rosh Hashanah, like ram horns, and draw pictures of that,” Witkes said.

Other kid-friendly activities included apples and honey served at snack time. “It’s a symbolic food for the New Year,” Witkes explained. “It’s eaten in the hope that the upcoming year will be sweet and good, like the apples and honey.”

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