LOS ANGELES -- Jews in the Southland and around the world will gather at synagogues, private homes and other places Monday night for the start of Rosh Hashana -- the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year.
      Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the year 5769 on the Jewish calendar, begins  Monday at sundown with the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn. The
holiday starts a 10-day period of penitence and contemplation leading to Yom
Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most solemn and somber day on the Jewish
calendar.
      Jews believe that God records the fate of humankind in the Book of Life
during the period of the High Holy Days.
      "The Jewish New Year is a time of introspection," Rabbi Simcha Backman of Chabad Jewish Center in Glendale said. "It's a time when we look at the year that's past and see what we've accomplished, but more importantly, it's about looking ahead. The main theme is looking forward and being positive."
      Because attendance for High Holy Days services is larger than weekly
Sabbath services, some congregations and groups use hotel ballrooms, high
school auditoriums, churches and other facilities for their services.
      Security is traditionally beefed up at synagogues and other Jewish
facilities over the High Holidays, because of the history of terrorism and
other anti-Semitic actions, including the Aug. 10, 1999, shooting at the Jewish
Community Center in Granada Hills.