North Shore celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Michael Schwartz, the Rabbi at Temple Sinai and co-director of Jewish and Family Engagement for the JCCNS shows preschoolers a Shofar, the traditional horn blown on Rosh Hashana. (Heather Greenberg)

Celebrations for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began Friday evening and will continue through the weekend. The two-day holiday features candle lighting in the evenings, the sounding of the shofar — a musical horn, typically made of a ram’s horn — in the mornings, the preparation of sweets and delicacies, and prayers.

The Jewish Community Center of the North Shore (JCC) based in Marblehead will be closed during the weekend as part of the holiday, but had plenty of celebrations and events throughout the last week.

“We don’t do services on a holiday,” said JCC executive director Marty Schneer. “We do try and meet personally to present a spiritual and elevating message. We often have an information sheet at our front desk so that Jewish and non-Jewish members can understand a little bit about the holiday.”

Schneer said that JCC is not a religious organization, but more of a Jewish cultural institution. The institution is open to everyone from all different religions.

“We are a Jewish cultural institution that welcomes a very diverse population of all religious, ethnic and racial groups,” Schneer said. “There are some programs like inclusion day camp for children with special needs, where the majority of children we serve are not Jewish. Many of them are from areas outside of Marblehead and Swampscott because we’re a unique service.”

Throughout next week, JCC will have a rabbi come in and blow the shofar. The institution has several activities lined up for students and adults.

“Within these holidays, we’re able to teach something in the classrooms,” Schneer said. “The idea is delivering a cultural and a moral kind of education. Teaching kids lessons in taking responsibility, counting our blessings and expressing gratitude.”

The JCC will have apples and honey in its lobby throughout the day to wish everyone a sweet and happy New Year. Through a message for all communities on JCC’s website, Schneer said that while the institution’s mission is formed on the lines of Judaism, it is inclusive to all cultures and religions. 

“I received an email from one of our Catholic members who’s been with us for several years telling me how much my message resonated with her and her faith,” Schneer said. “So that’s sort of how we do it.”


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