Rosh Hashanah starts today

In preparation for the upcoming High Holy Days, Harold Fox (from left), Leah Chase, Ken Fox and Michael Stricker of the new Congregation Dor Tikvah change the Torah to a new mantle before returning it to the arc (background).

The High Holy Days, which begin with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at sundown today, is the most reverent time of the year for Jews. They are characterized by prayer, celebration, family gatherings and atonement.

At synagogues around the world, ritual objects, such as the Torahs and their mantels, and the curtains that separate the holy scrolls from the profane world beyond, are decorated for the occasion.

At Charleston’s newest synagogue, Dor Tikvah, whose congregants meet at the Jewish Community Center in West Ashley, the transformation was made last week.

The Torah converings and curtain are now matching white velvet, decorated with pieces designed and produced by the Jerusalem-based Kaftor Vaferach Judaica, according to synagogue member Leah Chase.

The Torah mantels mimic the garments worn by the high priest as described in Exodus. The ceremonial curtain, or parochet, symbolizes the veil that hung over the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem in ancient times.

It is hung at most sacred spot in the Temple, the empty space where the spirit of God was believed to dwell eternally.

The ritual objects of Dor Tikvah were donated in memory of departed family members.