Outdoor shofar blowing given the green light
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High holy days & COVID-19

Outdoor shofar blowing given the green light

"We’re very excited that the central mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah will be able to be performed by the Jewish community."

Rabbi Ralph Genende blows the shofar at Caulfield Park  in pre-pandemic days. Photo: Peter Haskin
Rabbi Ralph Genende blows the shofar at Caulfield Park in pre-pandemic days. Photo: Peter Haskin

OUTDOOR shofar blowing in Sydney and Melbourne is set to go ahead during Rosh Hashanah despite current lockdown restrictions after last-minute exemptions were granted by the NSW and Victorian governments.

In Sydney, the exemptions in place will allow rabbis to blow the shofar at specified outdoor public locations in Sydney’s east and north shore. A rabbi will be allowed to blow the shofar for a period of 10 minutes for a maximum period of three hours a day on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In Melbourne, rabbis are allowed to intermittently blow the shofar while undertaking their permitted daily exercise, which is no more than two hours per day and no further than 5 kilometres from their home.

Welcoming the decision by NSW Health, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) CEO Darren Bark said, “[We] will be discussing with rabbis on how community members will be able to hear the shofar, with information to be made available from your synagogue.”

“We have worked with rabbis, synagogue leadership, the Rabbinical Council of NSW and other faith groups to make this happen and are extremely grateful that our community will be able to participate in this mitzvah during these extremely challenging circumstances,” Bark said.

“We thank Brad Hazzard MP and Natalie Ward MLC as well as NSW Health and Multicultural NSW – true mensches.”

Rabbinical Council of NSW (RCNSW) president Rabbi Nochum Schapiro told The AJN, “We’re very excited that the central mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah will be able to be performed by the Jewish community in Sydney.”

He thanked Bark and JBOD president Lesli Berger, as well as Justice Stephen Rothman and the rabbis of the RCNSW “for their tireless, consistent efforts and commitment to gaining this result”.

Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) vice-president Rabbi Moshe Kahn told The AJN, “We are pleased to announce that Project High Holy Days is a full go ahead with the Jewish community being able to hear shofar in a safe and legal manner.”

“Although the High Holy Days will be different this year, we will still be able to celebrate them united as one,” he added, thanking the Department of Health and Human Services and MPs David Southwick, Josh Burns, Nina Taylor and Paul Hamer.

Communal leaders are reminding the community of the current restrictions in place, including the prohibitions on gatherings, and reiterating the importance of following any Health Orders, which remain in place and in force.

Mask wearing is compulsory in outdoor settings and people must physically distance, keeping 1.5m away from individuals not in your household.

For more information on Victoria’s Project High Holy Days, visit phh.org.au.

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