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Rosh Hashana begins at sundown today

As they have for so many years, Charles and Eve Naumoff will play host to a Rosh Hashana luncheon Saturday at their Hempfield Township home.

That is, if the weather holds out.

“This is the first year they’re calling for rain, and I’m worried about it,” Eve Naumoff said earlier this week as she prepared her home for between 50 and 100 guests from Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg. The entire congregation has been invited.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown today. Jews not only will celebrate the beginning of the year 5764, but will begin a 10-day period of repentance that ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Rabbi Sara Perman, of Congregation Emanu-El Israel, said Rosh Hashana begins “an internal investigation of looking back at the past year and our behavior and trying to make amends with others and with God.”

Perman said people often ask her why 10 days are necessary.

“To ask people for forgiveness, it takes time. It takes courage,” she said. “(Ten days) gives us time to think about what we really did wrong.”

Yom Kippur, considered the holiest day of the year, ends the high holidays with Jews fasting and asking God for forgiveness.

Perman said there are three levels involved in the high holidays.

The first is actual repentance — asking people for forgiveness and changing behavior. The second is prayer. And the third is doing righteous deeds or acts of kindness.

“Some of that is certainly going on in the congregation,” Perman said, pointing out a man who came by to help the custodian make some last-minute preparations for services.

Another congregant designed and made two covers for the Torah scrolls. They will be dedicated before tonight’s service.

Perman said two families purchased the covers as a gift to the congregation.

And then there’s Charles and Eve Naumoff and their annual luncheon.

“It’s such a lovely gesture, and it comes from their hearts,” Perman said.

This week Eve Naumoff was busy preparing her yard and garden for her guests. And she was worrying about the weather forecast.

If everything goes as planned, she’ll cook six turkeys ahead of time on a rotisserie, and other families will bring side dishes and desserts.

“It started out I used to have a few people over on New Year’s Day, and then I started inviting more and more, and then I got to a point where I didn’t know where to draw the line.”

So she started to invite the entire congregation — 80 families strong now. They all sit in the yard and eat and talk. The children get to run around and play.

“It’s a place for everyone to go and be together,” she said. “Everybody starts out the year together and getting along.”


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