Guest Rabbi to hold special Jewish services

| 20/08/2008

(CNS): One of Israel’s leading Rabbis will be coming to the Cayman Islands next month to join the local Jewish community in celebrations marking the New Year and the Day of Atonement. During his visit Rabbi Richard Kirschen (left) of Jerusalem’s Anita Saltz International Education Centre will lead various High Holy Day services at the Ritz Carlton-Grand Cayman.

Kirschen will be here for ten days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which starts at sunset on 29 September celebrating the year 5769, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the most solemn day of the Jewish Year, which will be marked on 9 October.

While Rosh Hashanah is a festival it is not just one big New Year’s Eve party but a spiritual holiday where Jews remember the creation of the world and a time for personal introspection and prayer. It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets and the blowing of a ram’s horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services. In Biblical times the trumpet was used to announce the new moon, holidays, and war.

Traditional Jewish foods accompany Rosh Hashanah. Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as challah, which stands for the circle of life, and the hope life endures without end.

Yom Kipper or the Day of Atonement is the most sacred holy day and a day of fasting and prayer for forgiveness for sins committed during the year. Jews gather in synagogues on the Eve of Yom Kippur when the fast begins, and return the following morning to continue confessing, doing penance and praying for forgiveness. The most solemn of the prayers, Kol Nidre, is chanted on the Eve of Yom Kippur. It is describes as a day to "afflict the soul," or atone for the sins of the past year. Yom Kippur is seen as the last appeal, or last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate repentance and make amends. Biblical origins can be found in Leviticus, where the priestly ritual of atonement is described.

Kirschen is the directorof Anita Saltz, which according to a release from Cayman’s Jewishcommunity interweaves spiritual, intellectual and sensory experiences for a dynamic Jewish journey. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1996. Before making aliyah to Israel he served as a Hillel director for eight years. He was the executive director of the Hillel at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to that, he was associate director of the University of Michigan Hillel in Ann Arbor, MI. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Cara Saposnik a documentary filmmaker and their three children.

For further information on High Holy Days services, please contact Sara Carlowe McKay on 927 7304 or


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