This is a short item from the September 23, 1990 edition of the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reporting on the “Dial a Shofar” service that a synagogue in suburban Detroit was offering to its members. Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg of Congregation Shir Tikvah notes that there are people in his community who are homebound and therefore unable to go to synagogue to hear the blowing of the shofar during the Rosh Hashanah service. “Dial a Shofar” provides a phone number that, when called, plays a recording of the shofar blowing. Rabbi Sleutelberg notes that members of the congregation are very grateful for the service.
The shofar blowing service is a central point of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, and it is a mitzvah for each person to hear the shofar being blown.
Congregation Shir Tikvah is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).
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Shofar – The shofar is a ritual horn blown throughout the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah, and at the end of Yom Kippur. According to tradition, the shofar is blown in order to awaken the heart to repentance on the High Holidays. In biblical times, the shofar was blown at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given to Moses, at times of war, to announce holidays and the Jubilee year, and in ceremonies at the Temple. In modern times the shofar is blown on special occasions such as the inauguration of the president of the State of Israel and on Yom Ha’atzmaut. A shofar is made from a horn, typically a ram’s horn, but other animal horns may also be used. According to Jewish law, a shofar cannot be painted with colours but can be carved with artistic designs.
Rosh Hashanah – Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year which takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It is celebrated by blowing the shofar, lighting candles, eating festive meals, and attending services at the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy days which end 10 days later with Yom Kippur. The ten-day period is called the Ten Days of Repentance, because it is believed that during this period a person’s deeds are judged and the future year is decided. It is a both a festive holiday and a solemn time of introspection which includes prayer, asking forgiveness from others, and giving tzedakah (charity). The prayers on Rosh Hashanah include asking God for a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy year. Rosh Hashanah also celebrates the creation of the world. People greet each other on Rosh Hashanah by saying: “Shana Tova (Happy New Year).” Food customs for Rosh Hashanah vary among the different communities but often include round challahs (instead of the customary long loaf), apples and honey, and pomegranates. Many people send Shana Tova cards to their friends and family.
Reform Judaism – Reform Judaism, which was started in Germany and was introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s, is the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819–1900) was an early leader in the Reform movement and is credited with founding most if its institutions and writing the first Reform prayer book. Wise spent most of his career in Cincinnati, Ohio, which houses the main campus of the Hebrew Union College. Reform Judaism views the Torah as an historic work that was written by people but was divinely inspired. It claims that the Torah holds timeless truths and messages but must be adapted to suit the times of the day. In Reform Judaism, the individual, after studying the tradition, chooses to observe the laws that they believe bring them closer to God. Reform Judaism stresses egalitarianism and social action. Sally Priesand, the first woman rabbi ordained in America, was ordained by the Reform movement in 1972. In 1983, the Reform movement adopted a resolution that declared a person Jewish if either parent was Jewish and the person makes “appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.” This is a departure from other traditional branches of Judaism that define a Jew as someone born to a Jewish mother. Reform Judaism is known for welcoming interfaith families and members of the LGBTQ community. Social action and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) are hallmarks of Reform Judaism, and Reform Jews work extensively to bring peace, freedom, and justice to all people