Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday celebrating the Jewish new year, begins at sundown

Evan Cowitt throws bread on Venice Beach in celebration of Tashlich on the first day of Rosh Hashanah in 2017. Tashlich, which means "casting away," invites participants to throw bread or stones into a flowing body of water to symbolically cast away their sins. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Sundown on Sunday marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday celebrating the Jewish new year and the start of the 10 High Holy Days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

During the two days of Rosh Hashana, observers commemorate God's creation of humanity. It is a time for introspection and prayer and to spend time with friends and family. Among the traditional food items served at this time is apple with honey — symbolizing a wish for a sweet new year.

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Celebrations across Los Angeles will usher in the year 5779 on the Hebrew calendar. Most congregations require membership and tickets for High Holy Days services, but some synagogues and organizations are opening their observances to the public at no charge.

The Chai Center will hold a free service from 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Writers Guild Theater at 135 S. Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills. It will be followed by what is billed as “The Largest Free Jewish New Year's Eve Party” from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Another service will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Monday.

The Laugh Factory in Hollywood, in a public announcement, said this will be its 35th year celebrating Rosh Hashana with the community. Services will be held Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Reform Jewish tradition by Rabbi Bob Jacobs.

“Two of the main reasons I love doing this is it gives so many actors, writers, comedians and the entire Hollywood community who are away from their families a place to pray for the holidays,” Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory said. “And, with the economic crisis this country has been experiencing now for over a decade, so many people cannot afford the high cost of tickets that most temples charge in order to attend services. At the Laugh Factory Temple, all are welcome to come and pray.”

Many are also expected to participate in the annual gathering at Venice Beach on Monday evening for the Tashlich ceremony and the blowing of the shofar horn. Tashlich, which means "casting away," invites participants to throw bread or stones into a flowing body of water to symbolically cast away their sins.

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