In the weeks leading up to the Jewish high holydays, synagogues all over Jerusalem become focal points for special prayers called piyutim or bakashot. Using melodies handed down over generations, Jews whose origins are in every corner of the world, spend a couple of hours late at night and in the very early hours of the morning buttering up God in advance of the solemn period known as the Days of Awe, that include the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
In this shot taken at the iconic Barashi synagogue in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood, Jews from Kurdistan gather to recite the special prayers.
Notice the ram’s horn (shofar) laying on the central platform in the center of the picture? That’s to be used to at the close of the prayers to rouse everyone out of their spiritual slumber and ensure that repentance is taking place.
The neon lights are a little unusual for a synagogue interior, but they add to the atmosphere. The men are standing in front of the ark that contains the Torah scrolls that are used in services on Shabbat, Mondays and Thursdays.
This year, Rosh Hashana starts on the evening of September 28.