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"Show Far": A Prayer for the Sounding of This Year's Shofar

"Show Far": A Prayer for the Sounding of This Year's Shofar

After decades of celebrating Rosh HaShanah, I learned something new this year: The holiday is riddled with Hebrew puns, particularly those involving goodies like beets and dates. 

This nugget of information intrigued me, as I have a soft spot for well-placed puns used in the service of social justice and Jewish education. Over the course of many years as a lay leader at my URJ congregation, I found wordplays irresistible.

From “Russia-Shana,” an elaborate event which paid tribute to our immigrant heritage, to “Don’t Rush Your Shana,” an invitation to a leisurely holiday meal, I mined Rosh HaShanah for double entendres. If I hadn’t come up with the puns, I wouldn’t have thrown the parties.

What turn of phrase can possibly speak to us this year? As we usher in 5779, we are faced with daily, even hourly, assaults on our sense of right and wrong. The breaking news alerts and unending tweets lay bare a nation struggling for its soul. By contorting the proverbial arc of the moral universe away from justice, the current administration’s decisions repeatedly fly in the face of Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspirational proclamation.

In these troubling times, the rallying cry “show far” may just hit the right note, as the “shofar” always does. To show far is to blast Jewish values in an unharmonious world—and the Hebrew month of Elul is the opportune time to begin.

Taking a cue from the Eilu Devarim, may I suggest this play on words as our prayer for the coming year:

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of honor, respect, and civility in our discourse with our adversaries.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of kindness, love, and generosity in our outreach to those less fortunate.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of dedication, study, and curiosity in our quest for scientific facts.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of tolerance, mercy, and equality in our stance on immigration.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of decency, compassion, and dignity in our views on health care.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of righteousness, honesty, and humility in our daily lives.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of truth, justice, and integrity in our adherence to the rule of law.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of fairness, responsibility, and sincerity in appreciation of our freedoms.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of noble causes, ethical advocacy, and peace in our strides toward a better world.

When we hear the sound of the shofar, may we be inspired to show far and wide the importance of the judgment of the past, the obligation of the present, and the vision for the future in all our endeavors.

This Rosh HaShanah, may we heed the clarion call of the shofar as it beckons us to show far these cherished ideals.

Jan Zauzmer is a past president of a large Union for Reform Judaism congregation in Pennsylvania, and her writings on the intersection of politics and Jewish ethics have appeared in KvellerMoment MagazineReformJudaism.orgPatheos, Lilith, and JTA. She can be reached by email and @JanZauzmer

Jan Zauzmer

Published: 9/06/2018