Rabbi Paul Lewin blows the shofar at the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield. (Brook Mitchell)

NSW Jewish community granted exemption to mark new year celebrations

Jews will be able to perform a sacred ritual of the Jewish new year festival after the NSW Health Minister granted believers an exemption to the state’s public health orders.

Brad Hazzard has given permission for rabbis to blow the shofar – a ram’s horn – outdoors during the Rosh Hashanah celebrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birth of humanity and usually involves synagogue services, prayer and food. A key element is the blowing of the shofar, which is a Jewish call for repentance.

Rabbi Paul Lewin from the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield said the festivities would look different to usual due to the lockdown restrictions on gatherings and movement.

“It’s a real family affair to go to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. It will be really missed this year,” he said. “There’s joy for the festival but certainly a pang of sadness we can’t celebrate it in its full glory.”

Orthodox Jews face extra challenges to celebrate remotely because of their strict adherence to Sabbath conditions that includes no technology.

“From sundown, all our mobile phones are off, computers are off, the TV is off,” Rabbi Lewin said. “One of the biggest problems we have is we can’t livestream services. My synagogue is going to have a Zoom an hour before the start of Rosh Hashanah, so we all bring in the holiday together.”

Read the article by Josh Dye in The Sydney Morning Herald.