Jewish High Holidays kick off with charity drive

By Graig Graziosi


Today is the beginning of the year under the Jewish civil calendar marked by the holiday Rosh Hashanah and characterized by adherents as a time of introspection and prayer in anticipation for the coming year.

Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish High Holidays, culminates a month of reflection, and is intrinsically tied to the second of the High Holidays, Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

Ideas of judgement, atonement, repentance and corrective action are commonly associated with the period leading up to and including the High Holidays.

The blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn, is closely associated with the holiday and is meant to rouse people to engage with the world. As a result, the High Holidays are a time when many Jewish individuals engage in charity events. One such event is the 28th annual Jewish Community Relations Council and Second Harvest Food Bank High Holiday Food Drive, which began Aug. 27 and will continue through Oct. 1.

Sarah Wilschek, community development manager at the Jewish Community Center in Liberty – which also serves as a collection location – said all four local synagogues, the Akiva Academy and the JCC participate in the drive, and this year the event is expanding its participant base.

“This year we also have businesses participating in the drive. They’re in a friendly competition to see who can donate the most food by weight,” Wilschek said.

The participating businesses are the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Youngstown Phantoms, VEC Inc., OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, Titan Construction and Suhar and Macejko LLC.

“In Judaism, we have a concept called tikkun olam, which means ‘to repair the world,’ and the concept of tzedakah, which means righteousness, and this event is a way for us to actually put those concepts into action,” Wilschek said.

Participating drop-off locations – the JCC, Akiva Academy, Temple El Emeth, Congregations Ohev Tzedek and Rodef Sholom and the Children of Israel Congregation – can accept canned meat, fish and poultry, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cleaning items, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, paper products, grains, cereals, baby foods, snacks and instant coffee, among other items.

A little more than a week after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish community will celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Yom Kippur is observed by many adherents with a preparatory meal followed by a daylong fast and extended synagogue services.

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