For the high holidays this year, the AJT published separate issues for both Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The publications explored the unique ways Jewish Atlanta celebrated the high holidays during COVID.
Our Rosh Hashanah issue featured messages from community members and AJT staff telling us what they learned during 5780 that they would take into 5781. Many spoke about what they learned sheltering in place during the global pandemic. A special section entitled “5780 Through the Artist’s Lens” also featured artwork submitted by community members on what they learned from the past Jewish year.
In addition to the community messages, there was an article entitled “Awaken to the Call of the Shofar,” in which the AJT interviewed some of the longest-serving shofar blowers, or baal tekiah, at Atlanta synagogues. Nine synagogues were also featured in an article about outdoor shofar blowings.
Another piece featured the ritual of tashlich, or the casting away of sins, and how it evolved during COVID. A new tashlich tradition involved blowing bubbles to symbolize the previous year’s sins floating away through the air.
For the AJT’s Yom Kippur issue, three Atlanta rabbis – Jesse Charyn, Isser New and Josh Hearshen – were interviewed about their priorities for the new year. The rabbis focused on what we’ve learned from the pandemic, stressing our ability to change and improve while striving toward a better self and world. Another article did a deep dive on “The Multi-Faceted Yizkor Service” exploring its history and how different groups of Jews perform it. The community was also encouraged by an article called “Alternative Ways to Observe” to generate excitement about creating new observances for Yom Kippur this year, instead of lamenting traditional practices that would not be possible.