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Happy New Year, Welcome to 5772

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- Honey cakes, brisket and apples dipped in honey are just a small sample of traditional foods likely to be served in Jewish homes throughout Eastchester, Tuckahoe and Bronxville tonight in honor of Rosh Hashanah.

The holiday marks the beginning of a new year, 5772. One of the most important days on the Hebrew calander, Rosh Hashanah is a day to reflect back on the year just passed and look ahead to the new year.

The three day long celebration began Wednesday night at sundown when families and friends began their celebration with a great feast.

"At my house we will probably have London Broil, chicken and, of course, fresh cut apples to dip in honey," said Gary Katz, executive director of Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El, located just over the Eastchester border in Scarsdale.

"The apples to dip in honey is a symbol of hopes for a sweet year ahead," he said.

After dinner, Katz said many will head over to their synagogue for a night filled with reflection and prayer.

"The spiritual component is to be grateful for the previous year, for both the celebrations and the disappointments and to reflect on that year," Katz said.

Reservations must be made at the synagogue due to a larger than usual number of congregants at the celebration.

"On a typical Sabbath evening we have 50 or 60 people," Katz said. "Tonight we have 1,200 seats set up and there will probably be some people standing."

Katz said this will be the last year Rabbi Stephen Klein will lead Rosh Hashanah services, as he will be retiring after 32 years of service.

Services over the weekend will likely include blowing into a ram's horn, called a shofar, which acts as a literal and spiritual wake-up call.

Members traditionally greet each other with the phrase Shana tova, which means sweet year.

Other portions of the service are designed for prayer and reflection.

After the days of contemplating the things that they are proud of and things they wish they had done a better job with, congregants at Temples Tremont and Emanu-El will gather at a small brook near the synagogue to throw bread crumbs into the water, figuratively casting their sins away.

Katz said that in10 days, members of the Jewish faith will celebrate Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

"We spend Rosh Hashanah remembering and reflecting on what we did for the year, and on Yom Kippur we pray for forgiveness and the ability to do better in the new year," Katz said.

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