Rosh Hashanah: Communities gather to celebrate Jewish New Year

JW3 event

Young professionals gathered at JW3 to learn about Jewish New Year as part of the Jewish Festivals 101 series - Credit: JW3

Many Hampstead and Highgate residents are celebrating Jewish New Year with friends and family, after missing out on in-person events last year due to lockdown.

Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, is an important festival in the religious calendar and lasts for two days. This year it began on Monday (September 6).

On Sunday young professionals gathered at Finchley Road community centre JW3 for a Jewish Festivals 101 event.

Led by Rabbi Oliver Joseph and Miriam Lorie, attendees enjoyed a meal together before exploring Rosh Hashanah, its rituals and how different Jewish cultures celebrate it. 

At Camden's Jewish Museum, a special Jewish New Year exhibition called Beyond the Label invites people to "explore objects that show how this festival it has been celebrated for hundreds of years'".

apple and honey

Attendees enjoyed apples dipped in honey, a food traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah - Credit: JW3

On Monday, the mayor of Haringey Cllr Adam Jogee said in a video message: "As Haringey's mayor, I'd like to pass on my best wishes to all of those who live, learn and work in Haringey and who will be marking and celebrating these important occasions."

He added: "A new year comes with a new start, and I hope that Rosh Hashanah brings a welcome new beginning for you and for all of us."

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The leader of Camden Council, Cllr Georgia Gould, also wished people a year "full of healing, recovery, sweetness and joy" on Twitter.

Last year, synagogues were unable to open for the High Holy Days due to lockdown restrictions, though some communities live-streamed services online to their members.

This year, some places of worship are offering a hybrid system, with in-person and live-streamed services.

JW3 event

Unlike last year, Jewish people could meet in person to celebrate the festival - Credit: JW3

Alyth Synagogue in Temple Fortune wrote on its website: "This year’s High Holy Days are more complex than ever before. We recognise that some of our members are ready to return to in-person gathering, while for others this is not yet possible.

"Our High Holy Day programme reflects both of these needs, including a full online programme similar to last year, as well as a rolling programme of in-person services taking place at the Sternberg Centre."

Other communities, such as Highgate Synagogue, outlined the steps it was taking to keep the congregation safe as people return to pray.

Attendees were asked to book ahead and avoid congregating in or around the building.