Jews Look Inward on Eve of New Year High Holy Days a Time of Renewal

Article excerpt

The Millennium celebration held around the world at midnight Jan. 1 has little to do with the Jewish new year Rosh Hashana that begins at sundown Friday.

Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of a new year, and according to Jewish tradition, the celebration of the anniversary of the creation of the universe.

"The year 2000 is not significant to us," said Cathy Kase of Woodridge, a member of Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard. "We go by the lunar calendar, going back to the beginning of the world. That makes this new year year 5761."

The celebration begins a 10-day period of introspection, known as the Days of Awe, that culminates on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

During this High Holiday season, renewal is the focus, and Jews will gather in the synagogue to celebrate. Worship services and children's services will take place as Jews prepare for the new year.

Congregation Etz Chaim is leading off Rosh Hashana with an interfaith panel discussion beginning at 9 p.m. today. The panel features the Rev. James Dvorscak of Christ the King Catholic Church in Lombard, the Rev. Michael Daley of First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn and Rabbi Marla Spanjer, assistant rabbi at Etz Chaim. Rabbi Steven Bob of the host temple will moderate the panel's discussion of "Adam & Eve in the Garden: Temptation and Sin."

"The panel discussion theme, repenting for our sins, ties in with the theme of the holiday. We are all dealing with issues of our own repentance in our struggle to grow," said Spanjer, who recently joined Congregation Etz Chaim as assistant rabbi.

Using the Adam and Eve story as a way to introduce the theme, members of the panel will discuss what different religions teach about temptation, and they will explore how people look at their own lives and face temptation.

The panel will discuss how people overcome temptation and what happens when they succumb to temptation.

The panel discussion is a special part of the Selichot service that follows. Open to the public, it's a chance for those attending to learn, socialize and meet new people. …