"On this day the world was created. Hayom, Harat, Olam."

"On this day the world was created. Hayom, Harat, Olam."

"On this day the world was created. Hayom, Harat, Olam."

These words will be recited in synagogues across Prince George's County and around the world this weekend as congregations observe Rosh Hashanah, the holy day on the Jewish calendar that marks the completion of the creation of the world.

For children, the holiday will be a time to learn some of the most important tenets of their faith and to mark the beginning of the new year.

"There are two components to Rosh Hashanah," said Rabbi Ronald Kopelman, of Nevey Shalom congregation in Bowie. "We consider Rosh Hashanah the world's birthday. It is also a time to stand before God and plead our case."

"Because Jews don't have Jesus as their intercessor like Christians, we have to stand before God and plead our own case," Kopelman said. "The biggest component of this holiday is what we call having a sense of repentance, or in the vernacular, getting straight with God."

There are seven Jewish congregations in Prince George's that represent the four major Jewish movements: Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform. All mark Rosh Hashanah, a celebration taken straight out of the Bible and one of the holiest days in the Jewish year.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, which include Yom Kippur, the most serious of Jewish holidays, also known as the Day of Atonement.

In the Jewish Bible--Numbers 29:1--Rosh Hashanah is described: "And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you."

Because Rosh Hashanah falls on the Sabbath this year, Kopelman said that there will not be the traditional blowing of the ram's horn, or shofar, but that families will have many other activities such as worshiping in the synagogue and eating apples and honey at home to symbolize the wish for a sweet new year.

For the rabbis (literally, teachers in Hebrew), it is a time to deliver one of the most important speeches of the year.

Rabbi Eli Backman, of Chabad House on the campus of the University of Maryland, said his Rosh Hashanah message will be a wake-up call. "This Rosh Hashanah, we should not sit there. We should make noise in our lives, in our communities and in our world.

"Every person knows what they have to work on," said Backman, leader of an Orthodox group of about two dozen students. Backman said he will encourage the students in his campus ministry to go beyond listening to spiritual messages. "We have a tendency to go to the synagogue, listen to the rabbi, feel good and go home. My message is 'Don't just be a listener, be a doer.' "

At Nevey Shalom, the 140 families who are a part of the congregation will hear their new rabbi's first major sermon there. The congregation had been without a rabbi for more than a year after Rabbi David Greenspoon took a position in Pittsburgh.

Kopelman, who came to the congregation in July, said this Rosh Hashanah is particularly special to him because it is both a time for the synagogue to chart a new course and for families to renew their faith.

"Since I am a new rabbi at this congregation, my sermon will be about renewal and how people are in partnership with God," Kopelman said. "For the younger kids, I may introduce the idea of repentance: If you hit your brother and have done wrong, how much do you say you are sorry to God?

"My goal throughout this holiday season is to begin to commit to practicing one's Jewish heritage."

The Days of Awe culminate with Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Sept. 19 and is considered the holiest day of the year for Jewish people.

Kopelman said this will be a time when most people fast, pray and spend much of the day in the synagogue. This holiday also can be found in Numbers 29 in the Jewish Bible.

"And on the tenth day of this month, ye shall have a holy convocation and ye shall afflict your souls, ye shall do no manner of work."

Kopelman said fasting comes from the reference of "afflicting one's soul."

For Backman, "Yom Kippur tells us as human beings there is something more to us than our material life."

Sandy Worthman, a Bowie resident who attends Nevey Shalom and is beginning to prepare for the high holidays, said it is very important for her two children, Erin, 5, and Allyson, 8, to understand how important these holidays are to their lives.

"I want them to know the importance of being Jewish, and these are our highest of holidays, the most important times of the year," Worthman said. "It is a time for casting away your sins and starting a new year."

CAPTION: After getting a little help from teacher Ross Sommers, Scott Barish, 8, laughs as he gives up trying to blow into a shofar (ram's horn) during Sunday's Hebrew class at Nevey Shalom. For many Jewish children, the holy days that begin this week will be a time to learn tenets of their faith and to mark the beginning of the new year.