This Rosh Hashanah we will have to wait until the second day to hear the Shofar. When first day Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat we do not blow the Shofar even though Shofar is perhaps the defining mitzvah of the day: “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation” (Lev 23:24).

I remember standing in synagogue as a child next to my father listening to the mesmerising sound of the Shofar. The whole congregation gathered – silently (itself a novelty for Jews in synagogue) – hanging on to every note, as the ba’al tekiah used all his breath, sometimes with agonizing difficulty, to fill the sanctuary with the blasts of the ancient instrument.

Nowadays as an adult with grown children, I look at the faces of the little kids as they cram into shul for the Shofar blowing and I am transported back to when my children were that age, and then back even further to when I was a preschooler.

The Shofar is a time machine. It takes us back to the dawn of Jewish peoplehood, to the ram caught in the thicket that was substituted by Avraham as a sacrifice at the very last moment, saving his beloved son Yitzchak from a terrible fate. It moves us through millennia of Jewish history, some glorious and some horrific and despairing. It brings us mindfully into the present to confront the challenges and opportunities of our current reality, and it spurs us forward towards an eschatological vision of a perfected world.

Our wonderful Cape Town Jewish community is a physical manifestation of this sonic thread – the very same fusion of historically imbued and values-laden past, present, and future. Our institutions are built around a community that feels a sense of kinship and mutual responsibility for one another. We take care of our vulnerable and needy, our indigent and our aged. We educate our children about their past and towards a shared future. We protect ourselves from harm and defend our rights against antisemitism. We provide for the fullest expression of our religious, national and cultural heritage possible for a diaspora community, and maintain a strong relationship to Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, even caring for the needs of those of our community who choose to study in Israel and/or make Aliyah.

We feel a huge sense of gratitude to all our donors, communal volunteers, and the professional teams and lay leadership across our community’s structures that make this possible.

For sure we also have our share of communal challenges as well as wonderful opportunities. Let the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah this year (even though only on second day) inspire us to rise to meet these challenges with courage and determination, and to seize with both hands the opportunities to make ourselves an even stronger community.

Wishing you and your families a Shanah Tovah U’Metukah.

Lots of love,

Lance Katz