- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Washington-area Jewish congregations altered their Rosh Hashana services yesterday to address the nation's suffering following terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
At least one congregation broke tradition and put social action planning for initiatives, such as blood drives, ahead of the usual first appeal for the temple's financial support at the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
But the High Holiday themes of vulnerability, the fragility of human life and entering the unknown of a new year took on particular poignancy, congregants said.
"Lots of people lost somebody or are one [person] removed from someone who did," said Judy Gelman, president of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda.
Lessons and readings at Temple Sinai in Washington also emphasized that risk is part of living, and vengeance is not necessarily the right response, Stan Crock, the temple's comptroller, said late yesterday after a Tashlich ceremony symbolizing casting sins into the sea.
"What we are morally entitled to may not be pragmatically what we should do," Mr. Crock said, explaining that prevention may be the "greater good."
Like other congregations in the region, Adat Shalom had among its congregants some of the hundreds of out-of-towners, including Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, who gave up on getting home for the holiday because Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport has been shut down since Sept. 11.
Although many temples and synagogues require reservations for High Holiday services, Adat Shalom made a point of getting the word out that nonmembers were welcome, Ms. Gelman said.
Many rabbis also organized extra services in the days leading up to Rosh Hashana to offer people a way to deal spiritually with their grief and anger at the tragic assaults in Northern Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.
Some congregations increased security, often as a direct result of moving their services to larger facilities with more entrances to accommodate everyone who wished to attend.
Worshippers in the packed synagogues and temples said moods at usually joyous services that mark the beginning of a New Year were more somber and reflective, and people were more patient as though the days of introspection and repentance that precedes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement on Sept. 26, were already at hand.
"There was certainly a pall over things and a new awareness of how to live, and that you can't take anything for granted," said Debbie Goozh, reflecting on services she attended at B'nai Israel Congregation in Rockville yesterday morning.
There's an "almost palpable" intensity, and young people particularly seem to be looking for ways to address the issues, Mrs. Goozh said.

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