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Jewish New Year a time for reflection of inner self


CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – 09-23-2009

Sgt. Dan Wavle, a helicopter mechanic with Marine Aircraft Group 40, said he will focus more on effective leadership. Lt. Col. Scott Stimpson, the intelligence officer of MAG-40, said he will place more emphasis on family and others vice himself.

Wavle and Stimpson joined other Jewish Marines with Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan here Sept. 18 at sundown to celebrate the Jewish New Year of 5770.

Formally known as Rosh Hashanah, which translates to “head of the year,” the Jewish New Year marks the beginning of a process of introspection and self repair. The process leads to promises for better thoughts and actions.

The process of reflection and repentance takes place over a 40-day period beginning about four weeks before Rosh Hashanah, at the start of the month known as Elul on the lunar Jewish calendar. Jews consider the 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur as the most sacred time during that period. During “The Days of Awe,” as they’re known, Jews ask forgiveness from one another to God for their sins and the sins of their community.

“These are 10 days of reflection,” said Navy Cmdr. Joel Newman, the rabbi and chaplain who led the Rosh Hashanah service. “This is an opportunity for Jews to think about the past year and how they can improve as a person.”

Jews view Yom Kippur, which is known as the “Day of Atonement,” as the most solemn and important day of the Jewish holidays, Newman said. Most Jews will observe this holy day with a period of fasting and intensive prayer. God will then determine each person’s fate for the coming year.

“What will I do differently for the year to come?” said Col. Kevin Vest, the commanding officer of MAG-40, “well, that’s what I’m going to figure out over the next week.”

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