Rosh Hashanah starts with tossing of bread

Handfuls of bread were cast into the Savannah River on Tuesday evening as the sun sank below the horizon, and about 20 Jews celebrated the first day of Rosh Hashanah and the start of the Jewish New Year.


It's now the year 5769, according to the lunar calendar kept by Jews.

On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, Jews typically gather to pray along a body of water as they toss bread to symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year.

The tradition, Tashlich, stems from a prayer invoking Micah 7:19, which instructs, "You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."

The holiday, Rabbi Zalman Fischer explained, "is really about change -- internal change."

"It's about personal and eternal change and making the world around you a more godly place," he said.

Members of his congregation began their evening with prayers in Hebrew after meeting at Chabad of Augusta, the Broad Street synagogue where women sit separately for services, most men grow long beards and the rabbi wears a traditional rekel.

As the sun set, they walked to the river and silently tossed portions of bread over the rail at Riverwalk Augusta.

The holiday is somber compared with the secular New Year, Rabbi Fischer said.

"For us, it's a time for accountability. It's a time to look at your priorities and focus on the things that are really important," he said. "You can be a millionaire today and poor tomorrow, but you still have your family if you took the time to invest in them. You still have your faith. That can't be taken away."

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The festival of Rosh Hashanah -- meaning "head of the year" -- is observed for two days, which mark the start of the Jewish New Year.

Jews say the date commemorates the creation of Adam and Eve.

The holiday is marked by the sounding of the shofar, a ram's horn that delivers a call to repentance. It's also the start of 10 days of repentance that culminate with the holiest day of Judaism, Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, which falls on Oct. 8 this year.