COLUMBIA – The children at Congregation Beth Shalom squealed and covered their ears at the sound. The rabbi took another breath and blew a second long note on the shofar, and the children shrieked in delight once again.
Rabbi Yossi Feintuch met with a group of preschool and elementary-school age children gathered in the sanctuary of Congregation Beth Shalom last Sunday. He explained that the shofar is a primitive musical instrument made from a ram’s horn. It is blown during the Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashana, which begins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Sunday.
Congregation Beth Shalom
Friday: 5:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. and Tashlikh at 4 p.m. at Twin Lakes
Friday: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tashlikh at 3 p.m. in Peace Park
Sunday: 9:30 a.m.
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish new year and the start of a time of repentance. The day marks the beginning of the 10 High Holy Days, also known as the Days of Awe. This time is used to repent for all the sins and transgressions from the previous year.
“We spend a lot of time in the synagogue and one of the things the children remember the most is the blowing of the shofar,” said Debbie Kaplan, director of education and youth programs at Congregation Beth Shalom.
The sound of the shofar is meant to wake up the people of the congregation so they can take an introspective look at their lives.
“It reminds us to think,” Feintuch said. It's not just about seeking forgiveness, the rabbi said, but it's also about resolving not to repeat those wrongdoings.
Feintuch told the children to think about their deeds — both good and bad — from the previous year and to think about ways they can do better in the new year.
The children learned about Rosh Hashana in smaller groups later in the school day.
The youngest children focus more on customs, Kaplan said. They learn about traditional foods such as apples dipped in honey, which represent ushering in a sweet new year.
Each year the children learn more about the holiday and its religious significance.
Kaplan said the three things children particularly enjoy are hearing the shofar; Tashlikh, a tradition of throwing bread into moving water representing the casting away of sins; and traditional foods during the holiday of Rosh Hashana.