While Rosh Hashanah is known as the Jewish New Year, Rabbi Yehuda Kantor believes it to be a lot more.
"Rosh Hashanah is actually a universal holiday," he said, because it celebrates the biblical creation of man -- Adam -- on the sixth day in Genesis.
"It's not just a Jewish holiday," he said. "Really, it's a very special moment for everyone."
Chabad Lubavitch of Westport helped to make the two-day holiday special for everyone in the community by hosting a series of traditional services at the Westport Women's Club. On Sunday evening, nearly 40 people attended the first service.
Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year," and Kantor explained that the celebration of the holiday is, in part, to set a tone for the year ahead.
"It encapsulates the full year ... Just as the head is the operating center of the full entire being," he said.
"This holiday commences the new year, which essentially means there's a new energy that's ushered into this world--a unique energy that's never been in this world," he said.
Kantor said that as the year 5773 on the Hebraic calendar begins, "on a spiritual level ... all the life force that sustained the world this past year is rising up to the source."
"It's such a powerful day," he added.
"It's a nice time to reflect on a year past and a year forward," said one congregant. "And it's also a nice time for families together."
"Most of the people here enjoy being here because it's an eclectic group," he said, referring to the congregation. "It's a group that's very focused on the community," he said, and features people from the various Jewish traditions.
The service, led by Kantor, mixed spoken prayers with songs.
Mordechai Binerman of Brooklyn, N.Y., served as a special guest chazzan, leading vocal prayers as Kantor kept beat on the bimah, or podium, during spirited musical.
"It's all about the new Jewish year beginning," said Dina Kantor. "It's a time when people really come to pray and ask for what's important to them."
"They're holy days," she said, "but at the same time, they're very joyous days."
Some of the Rosh Hashanah traditions include blowing a shofar -- generally, a hollow ram's horn -- during services. "It's supposed to awaken us to repentance and soul searching," she said.
Another tradition, at the end of the first evening service, involves dipping sweet apples into honey, symbolizing an offering of hope for a sweet year ahead.
"Sweet means that it's pleasurable and enjoyable," said Dina Kantor.