Chabad Mercer Island offers free, 30-minute Rosh Hashanah service

  • Monday, September 18, 2017 2:00pm
  • Life

Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld of Chabad Mercer Island knows that to engage members of the tribe, one often needs to lower the barriers of entry, often beyond the synagogue formalities.

To accommodate those who would otherwise not participate in formal Rosh Hashanah synagogue services, the rabbi is promoting a brief, open to all, 30-minute Rosh Hashanah ceremony that includes the primary observances of the holiday. As this is for the whole family, there will also be special prizes for children.

The “Community Tashlich and Shofar Service” will take place at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 in Luther Burbank Park.

Tashlich is an ancient practice rich in symbolic and mystical meaning, which is customarily performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. A brief prayer is recited near a body of water, preferably containing live fish; “in which we express our prayerful hope that G‑d cast our indiscretions into the depths of the sea, and that we be granted a good and sweet new year filled with G‑d’s abundant and manifest blessings.”

The sounding of the shofar is the central mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah. Typically, it is part of the Rosh Hashanah synagogue services. However, if for any reason one did not attend services, the shofar sounding can be fulfilled throughout the day of Rosh Hashanah. The mitzvah of shofar also contains many deep and inspiring messages for people to reflect upon.

“According to Jewish tradition the gates of heaven are open on the New Year, and G‑d accepts prayers from everyone,” Kornfeld said. “That served as our inspiration to create Rosh Hashanah opportunities for everyone in the community.”

This local initiative comes as the world marks 50 years since the late leader of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, initiated the worldwide Mitzvah Campaigns, a historic undertaking that took Jewish observance to the streets.

“The Rebbe insisted that Judaism be made accessible to all Jews,” Kornfeld said. “During the High Holiday period, accessibility can mean different things to different people. For some it means shorter, more user-friendly services, for others it means a nonjudgmental atmosphere, while for still others accessibility means affordability, and no expectation of membership or affiliation. 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 Hashana.”

Rosh Hashanah begins this year at sundown on Sept. 20 and extends until nightfall on Sept. 22, leading into Shabbat.

For more information about this ceremony, contact Kornfeld at 206-851-2324 and, or visit

More in Life

YES is lifeline for kids coping with challenges | Season of Giving

The Reporter highlights nonprofit organizations serving the Mercer Island community.

Island Youth Ballet presents ‘Excerpts from the Nutcracker’

The show performs on Dec. 9-10, Dec. 15 and Dec. 17 at the SJCC.

Mercer Island elementary, high school students show off Spanish skills

The district’s elementary world language program is now in its second year.

Mercer Island High School student raises $16,000 for hurricane relief

Albert Lam was inspired to plan a pencil fundraiser for the Red Cross after Hurricane Harvey hit.

Foundation improves quality of life of people affected by Parkinson’s | Season of Giving

The Reporter highlights nonprofit organizations serving the Mercer Island community.

Mercer Island retirement community names new director

A Pacific Northwest native is coming home to work at Covenant Shores,… Continue reading

Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club inspires youth to realize full potential | Season of Giving

The Reporter highlights nonprofit organizations serving the Mercer Island community.

Giving spirit shines at Mercer Island’s Covenant Shores retirement community

Residents and staff pack 61 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a project by Samaritan’s Purse.

Mercer Island to host tree lighting, Firehouse Munch, Argosy Ship | Holiday briefs

Holiday tree lighting and Firehouse Munch is Dec. 1 Gather with family,… Continue reading

Most Read