A TIME of reflection and self-assessment comes for the Jewish faith this coming week.

Rosh ha-Shanah, the Jewish New Year, takes place on Thursday and Friday, and provides members of the faith with an opportunity to look back on the previous year and plan for the future.

Although, the New Year does not include the wild celebrations which traditional accompany the secular New Year, Rabbi Maurice Michaels, of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue, said there are similarities between the Jewish New Year and the December event.

"The truth is the Jewish New Year Festival includes a number of similarities, but the main aspect of it is a time for self-assessment, checking out how good a person we’ve been in the previous year, attempting to make up for things we’ve done that have hurt or offended others, and genuinely promising ourselves that we will improve in the future," he said.

"We call this repenting for our sins and the culmination of the whole process will come a week or so later with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when again we will spend much time in the Synagogue, confessing our sins and praying for forgiveness."

Throughout Rosh ha-Shanah Jews are not allowed to work and families or friends traditionally come together for a meal during the festival.

Customs of the holiday include a prevalence of white in the Synagogue, eating apple and honey in the wish for a sweet year ahead and spiritual tasks which allow people to look at their behaviour and the wider impact of their actions.

"On the afternoon of Rosh ha-Shanah we go to a moving stretch of water and symbolically throw our sins into the water, hoping that the tide will wash them away," Rabbi Michaels added.

"Easy enough for us in Bournemouth, but a little more difficult for those living inland."

The holiday includes confessing sins, although Rabbi Michaels explained this was slightly different to the confessional in Catholicism.

"There are a number of differences. First, the confessions are said together rather than one on one," he said.

"We recite them all from a fixed list, so that no-one is embarrassed by being the only one confessing to a particular sin.

"We say them in the plural, because we recognise that many sins committed may be because of circumstances for which others may be partly responsible.

"Lastly we confess directly to God and not through an intermediary, a priest or Rabbi, but we can’t expect our sin to be forgiven just because we ask for.

"There has to be real repentance."