Rosh Hashana gets underway at sundown; rabbi talks New York Islamic center, planned Quran burning

At sundown today, Jews will begin the observance of Rosh Hashana. It’s the two-day holiday that marks the Jewish New Year. And synagogues across the Southland are getting ready to welcome it.

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels is with the Beth Shir Sholom synagogue in Santa Monica. In his Rosh Hashana sermon, Comess-Daniels plans to talk about the proposed Islamic center in New York City near Ground Zero.

"My message tomorrow is going to be against hate, against fear, against bigotry, and in favor of all of us being in this world, and certainly in this country, together," says Comess-Daniels.

Comess-Daniels invited Jihad Turk, the director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California, to tomorrow's Rosh Hashana service at Beth Shir Sholom synagogue, as well as Muslim prayer leader/actor Ben Yusuf. Cantor Ken Cohen and Yusuf will chant together for a moment, and Jihad will greet the congregation after Comess-Daniels' sermon.

"What I hope to have in front of the congregation is the reality of Muslim-Jewish relations in the country," says Comess-Daniels. He says he hopes to reach out to those afraid of the proposed New York City Islamic center. "We should talk to all our friends and all of our family and let them know the reality of other religions, other than ours, and other people, other than ours, and that we need to be with one another and cooperate with one another."

Comess-Daniels said that the Florida Christian pastor who plans to burn the Quran "fuels the fire" of fear that Comess-Daniels says too many Americans have.

"It's a truly hateful act and a truly anti-American act to do such a thing."

Comess-Daniels talked about what Rosh Hashana means. "Every Rosh Hashana is different than the one before, because it's a complete renewal of the world," says Comess-Daniels. "Our point of view is that this is the day that the world was conceived, this is the day the world was born. So, it's a fresh start – for all of us."

The rabbi will deliver his sermon at a service at Santa Monica High tomorrow morning.

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