‘SHOFAR IN THE PARK’
OKC Chabad hosts outdoor Jewish new year service
“We don’t wish each other an easy year, a relaxing year, a laidback year. It’s nice to have things easy, but that’s not what we want. We want change. We want to make a difference.” Rabbi Ovadia Goldman
The sounds of a horn could be heard along a creek nestled in an Oklahoma City neighborhood. h Rabbi Ovadia Goldman blew the shofar, a ram’s horn traditionally blown at services marking Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. h The sights and sounds were part of “Shofar in the Park” on Sept. 7 at Quail Creek Park, 11102 Quail Creek Road. h A crowd of about 70 men, women and children gathered around Goldman, who said the shofar is blown to signify that the Jewish High Holy Days have arrived. h Rosh Hashana, celebrated Sept. 6-8, marked the start of the High Holy Days. This 10-day time period begins with Rosh Hashana and ends with Yom Kippur. Also known at the Day of Atonement and the most holy day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur will begin at sundown on Wednesday. h “Shofar in the Park,” hosted by Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning, included the traditional shofar blowing and a Tashlich service at a creek that wound its way along one side of the park. During Tashlich, a ceremony typically performed on the afternoon of the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana, individuals symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year into flowing water.
Most people in the crowd took part in the ritual, but not before Goldman, as Chabad-Oklahoma City’s spiritual leader, shared a poignant message for the new year.
“We don’t wish each other an easy year, a relaxing year, a laid back year. It’s nice to have things easy but that’s not what we want. We want change. We want to make a difference,” he said.
“It should be that kind of year — a year of change. Because at the end of the day, the best way to have a good year is to have a different year.”
The rabbi said change begins at home, and to make a difference, change that makes an impact never ends at home — “You have to take it to others.”
“The best way for us as a Jewish community, as Jewish people, as Godly people, to make a difference is to do Godly things, to take on a a new mitzvah for the new year,” he said.
Goldman shared more new year insights a few days after Rosh Hashana. He said he couldn’t participate in an interview or allow members of the Jewish community to take pictures during the recent holiday event because it is against Jewish law to do such things at a service on a holiday.
The spiritual leader said the outdoor event was a way to celebrate the holiday together while observing COVID-19 safety protocols warning against large indoor gatherings to limit the spread of the virus. However, he said the main reason for having a holiday celebration at the park was to remind participants that God is omnipresent.
“It’s a misperception that godliness begins at the door of the synagogue or house of worship. God is everywhere,” he said. “Certainly out in that spot of nature, God shines there. It gives people moments to reflect, to connect to their godliness and to listen to God’s stirring, passionate plea for us to be partners with him in his creation.”
Sweet treat for new year
Goodie bags of honey cakes and apples were distributed along with water and frozen treats before the crowd dispersed.
One of the sweet customs of Rosh Hashana is eating apples and honey for
the new year. Families drizzle honey over apples or combine honey laden food with apples to symbolize their wish for a sweet new year.
One family introduced their newest member to the tasty tradition at “Shofar in the Park.”
Ross Kenneth Urken gave his daughter Odella, 16 months, a taste of a honey cake as part of the tradition.