By Josh D’Agostino | Congregation Shearith Israel President
Just like every synagogue in our great city, across the country, in Israel and around the world, preparations for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are well under way.
Our shared experience of the High Holidays is a tremendous time of family, joy, thought, prayer and reflection. Jews everywhere will celebrate in much the same way. It’s a powerful commonality that we share as part of the larger Jewish community.
At Congregation Shearith Israel, we are looking forward to hosting our members and guests as we welcome the new year. We’ll see old friends, regular members, new members and individuals just looking for a place to belong, even if only for a few hours. We hope that each of our attendees will find what they are looking for on these holiest of days.
The new year often affords the opportunity to consider doing things differently. For us, it is a tremendous time of change at Congregation Shearith Israel, and we are embracing it. We have new leadership with new ideas, new energy and noticeable dedication at both the professional and lay levels.
Additionally, it is a time to preserve the most celebrated traditions of more than 110 years of existence. For example, our new spiritual leader, Rabbi Melvin Sirner, will lead Shearith Israel into the new year, inserting his take on this special time. We are honored to have him with us. True to tradition, our congregants will also continue to participate heavily in our services, from simply opening the ark to blowing the shofar.
The shofar is both a call to celebrate G-d and the special relationship with humanity, and a call for repentance. It is representative of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — a coronation and a time for reflection.
On a recent Sunday, my three young children came home from our Machaneh Shai program (children’s education) and were playing a game where they were sounding the shofar. They had just heard it blown that morning during a family program.
A thought of mine was how did simply blowing the shofar inspire an imaginary game that went on for an hour? Were other children doing the same? Perhaps this little, seemingly unimportant event exemplifies the significance of this time of year for Jews. No matter the level of observance, Jews everywhere are called to celebrate the High Holidays in some way. Even the tradition of the shofar made an impression on my children, and I’m sure they don’t fully grasp the true meaning.
On behalf of our professional staff, our board of trustees, and our entire membership, Congregation Shearith Israel wishes you a joyous and meaningful Rosh Hashanah and a Yom Kippur filled with both celebration and thoughtful reflection.
L’shana tova tikateiv veteichateim. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.