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UJA Federation teams up with local synagogues to bring Shofar Across Brooklyn

Brooklyn congregations trying to make shofar tradition more accessible
Brooklyn congregations trying to make shofar tradition more accessible 02:45

NEW YORK -  The ancient sound is a little different every time you hear it, but the blast of the shofar is one that has resonated in the Jewish community for millennia. 

"It's our alarm clock. It's to make sure that we're not sleepwalking through life. To say if you only had one day left, if this was your last year, how would you want to be living? Wake up!" explains Rabbi Michelle Dardashti of the Kane Street Synagogue, a historic sanctuary which leaders say is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in Brooklyn. 

Observing the customs of the holiday, from the foods to the sounds, is important to local families, including 8-year-old Pella and her dad, Josh. 

"You eat apples and honey to show that the new year is going to be a sweet new year," Pella says.

"It's super important it to give kids something in terms of ritual that is fun for them, that they experience, and have joy with," says Josh, a congregant of Romemu Brooklyn.

Hearing the sounds of the shofar is traditionally required of all who observe the holiday. That's why leaders at UJA Federation of New York are gearing up for their fourth annual Shofar Across Brooklyn, a program which started in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

"The Jewish community in Brooklyn is one of the largest in the world, and there are so many people that won't find themselves in a synagogue for so many reasons. Either they're homebound or they're have too many kids to drag around or they're just not comfortable in a synagogue," says Rebecca Saidlower, UJA Brooklyn's Executive Director of Community Mobilizers.

The program is an effort to bring this mystical sound to more than 20 local parks and public spaces.

"It's happening the exact same time that our ancestors did it, or that somebody in Coney Island's doing it. So it's like really unifying in time, and the sound is unmistakable," says Sarah Schmerler, congregant at Kane Street Synagogue who will be blowing the shofar in Cobble Hill Park. 

Sunday at 4:30 p.m., the sound of the shofar will ring across more than 20 locations across the borough.

"As a Jewish person who has family members who've known oppression, religious freedom is being able to walk into the center of Brooklyn, like carrying a shofar on this pier and not to be afraid for a second. New Yorkers are amazing people," says Rabbi Scott Perlo of Romemu Brooklyn.

For thousands, it's a rallying cry for unity, self-reflection and a sweeter tomorrow.

Rosh Hashanah begins Friday at sundown. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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