“Honey, turn the TV down, this kid wants to blow shofar for us”.
This bizarre, yet wonderful quote is the one that sums up Rosh Hashana 2015 for me.
On two sunny Rosh Hashana afternoons this year, I walked around the lovely city of Kiryat Shmona with a few friends from Yeshiva. We had volunteered to be part of “Operation Shofar for Every Jew”, without really knowing what that meant. I believe every Jew should hear shofar on Rosh Hashana, and that I should do everything in my power to help make that happen. My Saba taught me how to blow shofar when I was younger, and I’ve always wanted to perform the mitzvah for real.
After lunch on the first day, we were handed a shofar, candies for children, Kippot, and a paper with the blessings. The guy in charge suggested that we go knock on doors and ask whether the people had heard shofar that morning. We headed out, a little nervous, hoping it would be a successful operation. Words can’t really describe the feeling of satisfaction after we had finished. Here are a few scenes stuck in my head that I will never forget.
Scene 1: We get to the house, knock on the door and ask if they’ve heard shofar today. The grandmother cracks a smile as wide as Broadway, and starts calling all the kids down. Meanwhile, the whole family invites us to sit with them, eat (which we politely refused), and drink. They lower the music and TV volume, and anxiously wait for me to begin. When I finish, and open my eyes, I notice tears streaming down a few faces. Something about the cry of the shofar had hit them very deeply. In just 5 minutes, we had turned a family get-together barbecue into something incredibly meaningful for them.
Scene 2: A big family pool party. For this one, the kids stayed in the pool. The father got out, put on a shirt and Kippa, and recited the blessings. This was the first time I’ve ever heard of girls in bikinis hearing shofar.
Scene 3: A guy in a parked car.
We handed him the blessings and Kippa through the window. He turned the motor off, closed his eyes, and listened to the same sound our nation has been listening to on Rosh Hashana for thousands of years.
There were about 15 more houses we visited, all with the same results. Everyone was thrilled, and tried to shower us with food and drinks. They were so grateful we had come to share the mitzvah with them. We also blew for people on the street, people in cars, and people in the park.
The connection between Secular Jews and Judaism is extremely powerful. Even the people that appear to be the furthest away from the Torah, share a deep connection to it. They want Judaism, they’re thirsty for it, they just need it to be brought closer to them. The smiles, the blessings, and the emotions felt throughout the afternoon are three things I will never forget.
The best feeling in the world is knowing you helped bring Jews closer to Judaism. The whole time felt like we were on Shlichut (on a mission). That is the definition of Kibbutz Galuyot, helping Israel regain it’s Jewish identity. We probably blew shofar for about 100 people that wouldn’t have heard it otherwise. I highly recommend the operation to everyone next year, it’s a tremendous mitzvah that can really impact lives. I don’t think they’ll ever forget the three teenage boys that came to blow shofar for them on Rosh Hashana. When I left the yeshiva that afternoon, I was planning on giving. Little did I know how much I would be gaining from it too. Shana Tova!