September 18, 2020
Toco Hills rabbis and leaders sought to find a way for congregants to hear shofar-blowing outdoors this year. The goal was to enable the increased number of members who could not attend Rosh Hashanah services, because of COVID-19 concerns, to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing live shofar blasts.
Yisrael Frenkel, one of the regular shofar-blowers at Congregation Ohr HaTorah, found a way to bring together all the area congregations to deal with the needs of elderly and high-risk Toco Hills residents. With a unanimous response from nine area synagogues, the result was the formation of The Toco Hills Shofar Collaborative.
The collaborative included Chabad of Toco Hills, Congregation Beth Jacob, Congregation Bet Haverim, Congregation Ner Hamizrach, Congregation Netzach Yisrael, Congregation Ohr HaTorah, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, Congregation Shearith Israel, and The New Toco Shul.
A representative of each synagogue coordinated in-house registration, and the information was shared and used to assign registrees to groups of limited size, with strict COVID-compliant restrictions.
The collaboration was a great success, with 474 registered Toco Hills residents from Orthodox, Conservative, Traditional and Reconstructionist shuls. Several dozen unregistered people showed up at the designated sites, all conforming to the well-publicized social-distance and mask-wearing rules.
Twenty-six separate shofar-blowings took place throughout the Toco Hills area, some at central meeting locations and some outside home-bound individual’s homes. There were 18 volunteer shofar-blowers, members of four of the participating synagogues.
Jewish Home Life generously sponsored pre-Rosh Hashanah coronavirus tests for 25 synagogue chazzanim (cantors) and shofar-blowers, to make sure they would not spread the virus as they fulfilled their Rosh Hashanah roles.
The shofar-blowing collaboration drew praise and gratitude from members of all nine synagogues, whose members were happy to meet new neighbors and safely observe a stirring Rosh Hashanah ritual together.
- Chana Shapiro
- Congregation Beth Jacob
- Congregation Bet Haverim
- Congregation Ner Hamizrach
- Congregation Netzach Yisrael
- Congregation Ohr HaTorah
- congregation shaarei shamayim
- Congregation Shearith Israel
- Chabad of Toco Hills
- Jewish HomeLife
- rosh hashanah
- The Toco Hills Shofar Collaborative
- Yisrael Frenkel
- toco hills
- New Year