A New Year — Shofar, So Good

by Zoey Green

The sounding of the shofar is a powerful symbol that has taken on new meanings each year I’ve heard it. When I was young, it was a challenge: when will your lungs grow strong enough to turn the nebulous gas you breathe into crisp, concentrated noise? When I was bat-mitzvah aged, it was a test: do you know the name and pattern of each blast and what each meant to the generations before you? Then somewhere along the way, I questioned tradition, wondering whether I liked my New Year to be celebrated with silence or with sound and why was everyone so willing to put their mouth on the same old ram’s horn anyway? As I surrounded myself with the quirky energy that emanates from a room full of Habos, I discovered meaning in Judaism through its continuous demand that I seek to change the world for the better. With that realization, the dynamic sounds of the shofar came to signify solidarity and the importance of the community standing with every individual who is defiant enough to embrace tradition and make it relevant again today.

This year, the tradition of blowing the shofar throughout the month of Elul in preparation for Rosh haShana seems significant for me as the Mazkirut Artzit embraces new members of its tzevet. I see new value in a tradition that emphasizes the importance of preparing for change and renewal. Rosh haShana, yet another display of Judaism’s mastery of the bittersweet, reminds us that we must meet the New Year with full-hearted celebration; we can only do so if we take the time to prepare for the transition and build new visions for a year even better than the last. As I watch the new tzevet begin to construct a vision for taking ownership over the continued growth of Habonim Dror, I am hit with the importance of meeting each new year with reflection, enthusiasm and critical thought. And amid shofar blasts or not, I hope that each of us, in our own time, will find the space to grapple with the questions facing us in the coming year.

Shana tova!

Posted in Rosh haShana 5775.