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Utah Jews enter High Holy Days with high-minded goals: to better themselves and the world

09/05/2021 08:43:51 PM

Sep5

Bob Mims

Listen carefully during the daylight hours of Tuesday and Wednesday, and you may hear the blasts of the shofar rising from synagogues along the Wasatch Front.

From a twisted ram’s horn come tones both alarming and plaintive, at the same time triumphant and hauntingly like the sobs of a lost child for its mother: This is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which begins Monday evening — a two-day observance as rich in millennia-old traditions as it is in how 21st-century Jews in Utah and across the planet understand and experience the holiday.

“Rosh Hashana has so many different meanings to it,” Rabbi Samuel Spector of Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami acknowledges. “In Judaism, we say that this was the day that God created humankind. There is a big focus during Rosh Hashana on togetherness, on seeing the holiness and humanity and one another, and in coming together as a community.

“It’s a time for us to really reset. Ten days later is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement,” Spector says. “We learn that, leading up to Yom Kippur, we are supposed to do an accounting of our souls and think about how we can be better, how we can both make our world better and be better ourselves, and make our world better in the new year.”

Last year, COVID-19 restrictions truncated — and in some cases canceled — the in-person celebrations of Rosh Hashana as well as other Jewish holidays. Pandemic fears have eased enough this year to allow a measured return to more traditional congregational gatherings, though vaccinations, masks and social distancing — along with livestreaming of services — will once more be offered to worshippers.

At Kol Ami, 2425 E. Heritage Way (2760 South), proof of vaccination will be necessary for attendees 12 years and older, with masks required for all ages 3 and above.

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Tue, October 26 2021 20 Cheshvan 5782