Several events were held around the Southland at sunrise Wednesday to mark Birkat Hachamah, Judaism's blessing of the sun, which is performed once every 28 years.
The blessing is performed when the sun returns to the same position at the same time of the week that it occupied at the time of its creation 5,769 years ago, according to the biblical account.
The blessing "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who reenacts the works of creation," is traditionally preceded and followed by a short selection of Psalms and prayers.
Because of the rarity of the event, the blessing is customarily recited amid large public gatherings of men, women and children.
Events included sunrise services in Griffith Park and Richard Rioux Park in Stevenson Ranch and gatherings at Chabad-Lubavitch centers in Beverlywood, Brentwood, Cheviot Hills and Studio City.
Some congregations are using Birkat Hachamah -- Hebrew for sun blessing -- to stress an environmental theme, which has risen in importance among the public since its last occurrence in 1981.
"Suddenly this becomes an incredible moment for us to pay attention to the fact that now we finally understand that it's our responsibility as Jews -- and people of faith in general -- to protect our planet," Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills said.
One way Temple Emanuel sought to do that was to have students in its school write wishes for "what the world will be like in 28 years," and store them in a time capsule, to be opened when the blessing is next performed in 2037, Geller said.
In connection with Birkat Hachamah, Temple Emanuel dedicated a solar-powered eternal light in its sanctuary Tuesday. It was among 18 Los Angeles-area synagogues to receive what Geller described as a "generous" grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to help defer the cost of the solar systems.