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Mon, Oct. 21

The Shofar heralds the High Holy Days

Sounding of the Shofar, the Ram's Horn, reminds us this Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, this Jewish Spiritual New Year and Day of Atonement, of our need to fix discord between people, within ourselves, and with our Maker. Each Shofar blast reminds us to repent, to make peace with apologies and amends, to admit our imperfections before the Holy One, to seek forgiveness, and to promise to do better so as to better the world we live in.

The Shofar comes in a great many varieties, each with its own timbre and wail. Combined with the unique techniques of each Shofar blower, one never knows quite what to expect when the Shofar is sounded during the Rosh HaShanah services and after the closing service of Yom Kippur. In some places, a hint of what is to come is heard with Shofar blasts early every morning (except on Sabbaths, Shabbat) for a month before the morning of the day Rosh HaShanah starts, calling on all to reflect on self-renewal and forgiveness. In other communities, the Shofar blast wakens people every day between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur too (except Shabbat). At Beit Torah, the first service of Forgiveness, Selichot, will be 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, in Chino Valley.

Some also sound Shofar during Rosh HaShanah's controversial Taschlich ceremony, Casting away Sins. United States Jews throw breadcrumbs into a body of flowing water to wash away sins. Some Kurdish Jews actually go into the water and swim like fish to cleanse themselves of sin. Hasids from Galicia used to put burning straw mini-rafts into the water so that their sins would be burnt and/or washed away. The controversy stems from the fear some leaders have that people will use symbolic castings away of sins instead of actually making amends with others in their lives.

This year, Beit Torah Rosh HaShanah/taschlich services on Sept. 29 will be at Fain Park, followed by a convivial vegetarian lunch. Lunch includes apples and honey, traditional Ashkenaz (Western) foods, as well as other traditional foods such as dates, pumpkin, leeks, beets, and fish also served at Beit Torah dinner services welcoming the High Holy Days at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29 in Chino Valley. At 10 a.m., the second day (Sept. 30 services), lunch will be at the 8944 E. Sommer Drive classrooms in Prescott Valley.

The holiest Jewish fast day, Yom Kippur, culminates of a month of Jewish efforts at purification from sin so as to be worthy of a good New Year. Kol Nidre service starting Yom Kippur, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7, and Yom Kippur day services, 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8, will be in the East Sommer Drive classrooms. During a Remembrance Memorial Service, we read names stored in our Torah ark of our dearly departed. We welcome, too, our new Sephardic Torah Talmidi scroll. Activities continue all day through Shofar blowing and break-fast. As always, all are welcome to join us.

For more information, times, and details, contact Beit Torah at 237-0390, or

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