407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

In the era of COVID-19, we are facing challenges to all that we once knew. As we make all our events virtual, wear face masks wherever we go, and back up a few more steps in the checkout line, it’s clear that we’re living in a changed world that isn’t changing back anytime soon.

This September’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur celebrations will no doubt be different as well. With restrictions on crowd sizes and other tightened safety rules, it is likely that many people will choose to celebrate and observe these holidays virtually from their homes rather than gathering communally, as is our custom.

One of our traditions and mitzvot is to hear the blast of the shofar. While we still hear the blast virtually, it’s just not the same as hearing it in person. I am happy to report that the Federation is working in partnership with synagogues and agencies in Central Florida with the goal of a communitywide shofar blast that will be heard across Orlando – in person. On the afternoon of Sunday, September 20, the Jewish community will sing out in one voice as we sound the shofar in unison.

As you can imagine, the logistics of pulling off such an event is a challenge in itself, but we believe our community is up to it. The Federation will be providing free shofars to those who would like to join this special celebration and sound the shofar in their homes at the appropriate time – and we’re even providing online classes on the fine art of shofar blowing. For those who are used to hearing the shofar blown during the entire month of Elul, this will give you the knowledge and tools to do so in your own home.

In addition, through our partnerships with synagogues and agencies, we will be able to hold communal shofar-blowing opportunities in outdoor public spaces with appropriate social distancing. By providing those who need them with both shofars and instruction, we want to enable people to gather appropriately to complete this mitzvah.

You will hear many more details in the weeks ahead, including opportunities for volunteer shofar-blowers in senior communities and elsewhere, so keep an eye on Fed Friday and the Federation website for updates.

We are grateful to our donors who have made this possible. We are grateful to our local synagogues and agencies who are partnering with us to make this happen. And we are grateful to everyone in our Jewish community who will make this a memorable, unique, and meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.