(CNN)Can this year just stop already? It's a thought ricocheting around the world as we cope with Covid-19, quarantine, wildfires and hurricanes.
Now it can.
Rosh Hashanah, which marks the Jewish New Year, begins Friday, September 18. Even if you're not Jewish, it's a way to immerse yourself in parts of these rituals of renewal. Maybe God knows we all need a little renewal now.
"I'm thrilled that it's time for Rosh Hashanah," said Stacy Stuart, co-founder of JewBelong, a lighthearted New York-based organization for Jews, non-Jews and anyone who has felt like an outsider at Jewish events.
"It's about how you want to clear your soul for the New Year," said Archie Gottesman, who co-founded the organization with Stuart.
They're organizing a virtual event Friday evening called "Sins, Stars and Shofars!" a one-hour event with stories, song and readings focused on uplifting people and repairing the rifts and divides facing our world. It features a celebrity lineup, including US Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, comedian Judy Gold and actress Alysia Reiner, from Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black."
"People have been stressed. They've been isolated and freaking out," said Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul NYC, an experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings, which is organizing its own virtual high holiday programs separate from JewBelong.
JewBelong sums up 2020's anxieties in its event tagline: "Kinda feel like God owes us an apology this year?"
Bringing in a New Year in September
Rosh Hashanah, which means "head of the year" in Hebrew, is a two-day celebration that marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days each autumn.
The New Year inaugurates 10 days of repentance, also known as Days of Awe. They lead into Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which this year is on Sunday, September 27. That's followed by Sukkot, of the Feast of Tabernacles, commemorating how God protected the Israelites as they wandered the desert in search of the Promised Land.
Rosh Hashanah begins Friday at sundown, customarily with the blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, a sound traditionally meant to wake up people from their slumber, or perhaps in this year's case, quarantine.
"We are trying to find ways to replace the communal feeling (congregants) are missing by not gathering in person," said Rabbi Joshua Lesser, who leads Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta.
He created a Facebook group called "Dreaming Up High Holy Days 2020," which has gathered more than 2,700 rabbis, cantors and lay people in a conversation about how to adapt Jewish traditions to the present pandemic. That group has become a vibrant ground for creative ideas.
One way Lesser's congregation is specifically adapting is by creating high-holiday boxes for congregants that include holiday candles, apple snacks, honey and notebooks for people to jot down reflections as they mark the high holidays wherever they are.
And they have created DIY high-holiday guides, which explain how to create a sacred space within the home that includes a makeshift altar and personal pictures or totems of significance.
"I can't imagine I would have thought this way had services been as usual," Lesser said.