For the first time, the Jewish New Year will fall on the anniversary of 9/11, prompting several Long Island rabbis to call for the country to regain the spirit of unity it forged in the terror attack's aftermath.
Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown Sunday and ends at sundown Tuesday — Sept. 11. A week later, on Sept. 18 at sundown, Jews will mark their holiest day of the year: Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.
Both holidays are times known for personal introspection and taking stock of the world at large.
As part of their religious services, the local rabbis will offer prayers for the those who died in the attacks as well as address the need for renewed solidarity.
“We all remember well the tragedy of that day, the horror of that day,” said Rabbi Charles Klein of the Merrick Jewish Centre. “What we also remember is what happened to Americans in the aftermath of 9/11. There was this extraordinary explosion of kindness, of camaraderie, of breaking down the lines and the walls that divided us.”
That oneness, though, has crumbled as the country has become politically polarized, he said.
“Now, 17 years later, look at what has happened, what we’ve lost — that sense of unity, the understanding that more unites us than divides us. The appreciation of what we mean to each other as Americans,” Klein said. “So much of that has not just evaporated, but it has literally just disappeared. And America is really suffering because of the absence of that spirit.”
At B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, Rabbi Steven Moss will deliver the message of accountability as it relates to the current atmosphere of divisiveness.
“There needs to be a reflection upon ... the inability of people in leadership and individuals willing to take responsibility for their actions and always blaming somebody else for our misdeeds, from D.C. to our own families," Moss said. "There will never be true healing in America” until that happens.
Rabbi Howard Buechler will ask his congregants at the Dix Hills Jewish Center to think about how the country should go about rebuilding itself — physically, spiritually and morally.
“We’ve seen lower Manhattan, the skyline, once again become transformed. How do we reconfigure the contours of our lives?” Buechler said.
“We have to be cognizant of the power of this day in America,” he said. “And that we have a generation that for the first time has grown up with feeling on our shores the impact of terror,” he said. “How do we grapple with that and provide both the physical and soulful strength and courage without getting into fear mongering and those who try to incite hatred?”
Rosh Hashanah will begin with short prayers at synagogues Sunday night, and longer services Monday and Tuesday. Those services will include the traditional blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. The sound is meant to awaken the faithful symbolically from their “slumber” in preparation for the coming judgment.
Yom Kippur begins at sunset and lasts until nightfall the next day. During those 25 hours, the faithful must abstain from eating, drinking and superficial comforts such smartphones.