Rosh Hashanah is not a day of sadness or a day of seriousness. It is a joyful holiday! It’s the day when we elect G-d to be our ruler.
It is the day that G-d remembers each and every one of us, and the day when we become closer to G-d by focusing on improving ourselves. That’s cause for celebration!
That’s why, in my position as the rabbi at Chabad of Hewlett, I have long geared our High Holiday services towards this goal: that the Days of Awe shouldn’t be awful — they should be awesome!
And this year, the joy we will feel when we gather for Rosh Hashanah will be especially deeply-felt. For many, these will be the first “typical” High Holiday services they are able to attend in three years — at Chabad of Hewlett we’re preparing to make it a wonderful back-to-Temple experience!
And the joy at being able to gather once more as a community is magnified as this Rosh Hashanah will also mark the start of the Year of Hakhel. This once-in-seven-years Jewish tradition goes back to the times of the Holy Temple, when in the year following the Shemittah sabbatical year, the entire Jewish nation would gather in the Temple. Nowadays, at the urging of the Rebbe —
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory — Hakhel has become a time to focus on unity and community-building, something that is more important than ever now after years of isolation.
This Rosh Hashanah, as we gather for services at Chabad of Hewlett, the shofar will welcome a year of joyful rebuilding after years of adversity and loss. Because joy is the true conduit to blessing in our lives. And that joy will be proclaimed for all to hear when the shofar sounds.
For centuries, Jewish sages and philosophers have discussed the reasons behind the mitzvah — commandment — of sounding the shofar, the central obligation of the day. There are some 11 different meanings behind this simple series of sounds.
To name a few: the shofar evokes the trumpets sounded at a king’s coronation, and on Rosh Hashanah we’re crowning G-d as our king; it is like an alarm that calls for us to return to G-d and correct our ways; it reminds us of the Giving of the Torah at Sinai — when the shofar was sounded, and of the binding of Isaac and the ram G-d provided as a sacrifice in Isaac’s stead.
Throughout the millennia, the shofar has been a constant in Jewish life. It was sounded secretly amid tears in concentration camps and Soviet gulags, and it was sounded openly and joyously in magnificent sanctuaries and synagogues. For every generation, in every place, the shofar has meant something unique, something resonant.
For us in Hewlett, in 2022, it is the sound of joyful optimism for the future, and the celebration of once again being able to gather as a community for the High Holidays.
In keeping with the theme of unity and building community, we strive to ensure that everyone feels welcome, regardless of prior knowledge, affiliation, or financial situation.
That’s why we have a variety of services geared towards everyone from first-time attendees to seasoned synagogue-goers. It’s why we don’t require membership, and don’t turn away anyone due to lack of funds. And it’s why we strive to create a joyous Jewish experience on Rosh Hashanah and on every day of the year.
Join us! Visit JewishHewlett.com/HighHolidays or call (516) 592-8503 to register. May you and yours have a truly happy and sweet new year!
Tenenboim is the leader of the Chabad of Hewlett.