With the High Holidays approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic creating difficulties for many in joining a traditional synagogue service, Chabad of Pasadena, 1090 E Walnut St., Pasadena, will hold an outdoor Rosh Hashanah [Shofar] service at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, in their parking lot which is open free to all. No membership is required.
“The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, considered the most influential rabbi in modern history, insisted that the observance of hearing the Shofar — the key observance of Rosh Hashanah — be made accessible to all Jews, even those not attending synagogue,” Rabbi Chaim Hanoka explained. “Chabad has always prioritized making Judaism available to all. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has taken on a whole new meaning, but our mission to serve everyone remains the same.”
The service, which will include prayers for the well being of all humanity — a key theme of Rosh Hashanah — will also be centered around hearing the sound of the Shofar, the central observance of the holiday. It will be one of thousands listed on Chabad.org/HighHolidayServices, the world’s largest directory of outdoor High Holiday services.
While Rosh Hashanah services are generally held in a synagogue, Chabad has in past years met the needs of those who couldn’t make it with a short outdoor service focused on the shofar observance. Chabad also creates accessibility by creating a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere and affordability, with no expectation of membership or affiliation. This year, steps have been taken to ensure that the health concerns Pasadenans face are not an impediment to holiday observance.
“Our goal is to lower the barriers of entry, and to encourage each and every Jewish person to actively participate in the observances of Rosh Hashanah,” said Rabbi Zushi Rivkin, the director of outreach at Chabad. “This year, that means bringing a Rosh Hashanah service to a location where people can safely participate, and making it free of charge as many in our community are hurting financially now.”
The 30-minute service will include the sounding of the shofar as well as selected prayers from the High Holiday liturgy, including the Tashlich ceremony. While not a substitute for the complete Rosh Hashanah prayer service, which can be done at home, the service will enable everyone to hear the shofar, and bring a heightened sense of community during this difficult time.
Participants will be asked to social distance unless they live in the same household and wear a mask.
For those staying at home, Chabad is offering Rosh Hashanah-at-Home kits, which will bring many of the resources enjoyed at synagogue into homes. The kits — which are available free of charge — will include a holiday guide, a machzor prayer book (as an optional additional purchase), candles, and traditional Rosh Hashanah treats including apples and honey.
Chabad of Pasadena will also be hosting their regular traditional High Holiday service, with COVID-19 safety, at 8 p.m. on Sept. 19 and at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at Chabad, which is located on the corner of Walnut Street and Wilson Avenue. As COVID-19 has changed the way people gather to worship, they will be holding services in a 5,000 square foot tent erected in the parking lot for this purpose, with mist-spraying fans to keep attendees cool and safety protocols to keep everyone safe while praying for the year ahead.