Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar begins today.
Rabbi Zalman Bluming, director of Chabad Durham-Chapel Hill, says he is seeing a surge of interest in annual High Holiday services and the traditional brisket dinner.
“The increased interest this year is due to congregants’ solidarity with Israel and the rise of global anti-semitism,” the rabbi said. “After Israel's Operation Defensive Edge this past summer, many Jews are feeling the need to stand with the Jewish people and participate more actively in related events.”
Some Jews who turn to Chabad‘s free services are not affiliated with a synagogue, the rabbi said. Others cannot afford membership and a sizable percentage simply don't feel comfortable in a synagogue setting.
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“There are too many barriers” to worship, he said, and the traditional model of limiting the seating in holiday services to dues-paying synagogue members leaves many people feeling locked out at the very time of the Jewish year when they need to feel the most included.
More than two-thirds of Jews in the Triangle will not be at a synagogue this holiday season, Zalman said. And while it’s important for synagogues to have reliable financial support, “We need to also be deeply concerned about those who aren’t entering our sacred spaces, and we need to make sure we make it as easy and convenient … as possible so that they can engage.”
Chabad will hold services and holiday meals for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to Jews of all backgrounds and ages at the Carrboro Hampton Inn & Suites, 370 E. Main St. Services are user-friendly, Bluming said, making it enjoyable and meaningful for both the beginner and the advanced. Song, commentary and English-Hebrew prayer books enable those of all levels to become active participants in the service.
Rosh Hashanah begins this year after sundown today, Sept. 24, and extends until nightfall on Friday. Yom Kippur begins after sundown on the eve of Oct. 3 and extends until nightfall on Oct. 4.
To reserve a space, register online at chabaddch.com or call Chabad 919-357-5904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.