Tri Valley Herald 9/22/06

A Shofar Factory in the Tri-Valley, heralding in the New Year

Valley Jews Plan Rosh Hashana Festivities
By Rebecca F. Johnson, STAFF WRITER  - September 22, 2006
When children crafted shofars by curing, measuring, sawing, drilling and polishing rams' horns Sunday, Rabbi Raleigh Resnick hoped that the experience would leave an everlasting impression on their young minds.

By using their hands to fashion, their noses to smell and their ears to hear the sound the instrument makes, Resnick, rabbi for Chabad of the Tri-Valley, aimed to help the youths make a connection to Rosh Hashana.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, begins tonight and heralds the start of the 10-day period called the Days of Awe that culminates on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

At various points in the synagogue services held during these days, the shofar is blown as a reminder to commence the reflection process.

"Just like an alarm clock wakes you up, as we start the new year, the shofar is a spiritual alarm clock that wakes one up," Resnick said.

The Days of Awe mark a time of deep introspection that includes asking God and others for forgiveness to begin anew.

"The grime builds up from all of our everyday stuff, all the frustrations and disappointments," said Rabbi Richard Winer of Temple Beth Emek in Pleasanton. "This is the time once a year to wipe it all off and move forward renewed.

"We take stock of the last year, fix all things that can be fixed. But at a certain point, you've got to wipe it off and move forward with a clean slate," he said.

The holidays also offer a chance to ponder worldly events, with recent

violence in the Middle East a subject sure to be discussed at the pulpit and around the dinner table.

Rosh Hashana typically is celebrated with festive meals that include dipping apples into honey, symbolizing the hope for a sweet new year. Challah, a type of bread, is baked into rounds rather than its typical oblong braided shape as a symbol of the circle of life or cyclical nature of the year.

On Yom Kippur, however, which takes place from sundown Oct. 1 to Oct. 2 this year, it is customary to fast as a cleansing ritual.

Many synagogues, including Temple Beth Emek, request congregants donate the food they otherwise might consume on the holiday to others less fortunate.

Winer said Beth Emek collected more than a ton and a half of nonperishable items last year that were sent to Interfaith Sharing, which serves the Valley.

For more information about Chabad of the Tri-Valley's Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur services, which are available without advance tickets, visit or call (925) 846-0700. Services will be held at the Carr America Conference Center, 4400 Rosewood Drive.

Chabad of Contra Costa will hold Rosh Hashana services in Walnut Creek and Yom Kippur services at the San Ramon Marriott, 2600 Bishop Drive. Visit for more information.