NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Across our area, many are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

East Side Synagogue saw a more artistic beginning to the new year as a dancer started the Rosh Hashanah service with a performance that acted as a symbol for a joyful beginning, CBS2’s Raegan Medgie reported.

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That’s something Rabbi Perry Berkowtiz said is very much needed following the past year.

“We have concern for what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in our country as well as in ourselves, in our relationships, in our own lives,” Berkowitz said, adding people must maintain a sense of hope. “Living with hope is one of the greatest things a person can do and a people can do.”

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As people started taking their seats, they too shared Berkowitz’s feeling of concern, but were also looking forward to what a new year can bring.

“I’m hoping for health and good things in the world, there’s lots going on right now and I think it’s a good thing to focus on treating each other better,” said Cara Samantha Gross of Astoria.

“I hope for peace and I hope for unity in our country,” said Shelly Talan of the Upper East Side.

Rabbi Berkowitz said his message will be to inspire his congregation to be more active in the community.

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“When we hear or see things, we have to stand up, we have to speak out, we cannot remain silent,” he said.

The four-hour service ranges in messages as some are somber, while other moments are festive with singing, clapping, and everyone joining together to dance.

“The values of music, they embody spirit in you, it’s marvelous,” said Joan Wolkin.

One of the Rosh Hashanah traditions is eating apples and honey, signifying the new year will be a sweet one, but at the synagogue, they offer Hershey Kisses.

“I want to take that message in and focus on the good things in life,” said Lianna Trubowitz.

The doors at East Side Synagogue are open to anyone wanting to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, not just those who are Jewish, Medgie reported.

Antonio Paradiso, of the Bronx, is Catholic, and this was his first time celebrating the Jewish new year.

“I think just learning about how exactly the Jewish culture celebrates new year’s itself and what it means to the Jewish people,” Paradiso said.

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Rosh Hashanah kicks off the high holidays which culminate with Yom Kippur next week.