COVID-19 impacted so much this year, but it isn’t stopping the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles from blasting the shofar for the entire city to hear.
On Sept. 20, L.A. Jews can welcome in 5781 with the Shofar Wave.
Created by the religious leadership at IKAR, people will stand on street corners throughout the city and blow the shofar, thereby creating a “wave” that will echo throughout Los Angeles. According to a statement to the Journal from Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson, the “shofar [serves] as a symbol of hope and renewal — and the Shofar Wave as an extension.”
“It feels like an obvious way for the various layers of Jewish community in Los Angeles to do this together,” IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous told the Journal in August, when plans for pandemic-style High Holy Days were underway.
Locations for the Shofar Wave span Santa Monica, Westwood, West Hollywood and Thousand Oaks to Santa Clarita, Pasadena and Redonda Beach. To date, 26 synagogues are participating. The event will kick off at 3 p.m. on Sept. 20, with the first set of shofar blasts beginning in Pasadena and culminating in final blasts in Thousand Oaks at 3:50 p.m.
“During these incredibly challenging times where most of our community is homebound, we are excited to partner with IKAR so that our entire community can share the mitzvah of hearing the sounds,” Sanderson said, adding that if your level of observance allows, the Federation is encouraging families to capture the moment with photos and video and share them on social media using the hashtag #shofarwave.
“This shofar wave is one of the ways to show that we still know how to connect and we still have ways to be together. If that means we gather on street corners this year, then that’s what we’re going to do.” — MaYIM BIALIK
Marty Lasker of Adat Ari El will be blowing shofar for his community in Valley Village; Rabbi Joshua Hoffman will be among one of the shofar blowers at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino; and 68-year-old Michael Bordy will represent Sinai Temple. Bordy has been blowing the shofar at Sinai and the Kever Avot services at Mt. Sinai Hollywood Hills, for 20 years.
“It’s like l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation), Bordy told the Journal. “My father was a trumpet player and my grandfather was the one who introduced me to religion. Whether it’s in a crowded synagogue or the middle of the street, I’m happy to do it. It’s my contribution to continuing Jewish life.”
IKAR will have a plethora of shofar blowers including Rabbi Sharon Brous’ mother, Marcia Brous, and 52-year-old Barry Goldstein, who has been participating in IKAR’s shofar service for many years.
“It’s such a brilliant idea, bringing the shofar to the people,” Goldstein said. “Hearing the shofar is the mitzvah. When you say the blessing, you are thanking God for the opportunity to hear the shofar. It’s super lovely to have this notion that this shofar is going to echo throughout the city. I’m really excited about it.”
Actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”), will also participate. It will be her first time blowing the shofar for IKAR. Bialik, 44, who has played the trumpet since she was 11, transitioned to the shofar after her childhood rabbi saw her performing trumpet on the “The Arsenio Hall Show” in 1989. Currently, the only member of her family who blows shofar (her sons like to time her tekiah gedolah every year, clocking her at around 30-60 seconds), she thinks this moment is a different but beautiful one.
“The Jewish people are people who know how to thrive in exceptional and difficult circumstances,” she said. “Thankfully, it does not compare to the enormous tragedy that our people have witnessed, but we do know ways to try and make it better. This shofar wave is one of the ways to show that we still know how to connect and we still have ways to be together. If that means we gather on street corners this year, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
This story has been updated to include times of shofar blasts and interviews with shofar blowers.