IJSS Observes Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich, and Challenges

Left to right: Members of the IJSS Peg and Mark Albrecht, Sandy McNabb, Sharon Hoff, Irv Rothenberg, Jeff Syden, and Seth Eisner.

Institute for Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS) members celebrated Rosh Hashanah via Zoom on Sept. 6 and 7. We have spoken about having services together. Well, things aren’t always what you plan. Over the course of the last weeks in August, because of the COVID surge, much discussion, concern, and decisions were made regarding in-person, hybrid, or Zoom services. Our board looked at other congregations locally and across the country. We found that most congregations were using Zoom. Did it make our decision easier? Certainly not! We wanted to gather as a congregation, in person. Hopefully, we will be able to do so very soon. IJSS wants to thank the staff at SaddleBrooke TWO for their technical expertise that enabled us to present our services via Zoom.

IJSS is a small and welcoming congregation. We value our members as friends and cohorts. If you have questions or wish to join our congregation, feel free to contact Joan Elder at 520-360-1478 or Seth Eisner at 520-818-6340 for information.

Rabbi Laura Harari, Cantorial Soloist Sarah Boltt, and Accompanist David Mancini-Conway worked together diligently to prepare the traditional and modern services we experienced. Readings of poetry and prayers were recited throughout the service, which added meaning to us as individuals and the holiday. Congregants participated in the service. A highlight was the Shofar Service. A Shofar is a hollowed-out ram’s horn, blown like a trumpet. The blowing of the Shofar is a significant part of the service. The Shofar is an ancient instrument once used to communicate with and gather the people of Israel. Today, its sound is a personal call to each of us to start a new year. Rabbi Harari emphasized listening to the Shofar and allowing it to resonate with each of us. Much credit is due to Sam Horowitz, who blew the Shofar, not an easy instrument to play. Sarah Boltt’s voice lent beauty to our prayers. When accompanied by David Mancini-Conway, the melodies, both traditional and new, were mesmerizing.

A factoid: You can hear the Shofar being played in the movies Alien, Planet of the Apes, and Return of the Jedi.

Rabbi Harari delivered sermons of Jewish substance coupled with a message, such as the meaning of Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King). In another sermon, she described her father’s love, which led to her insight into the importance and challenge of sustaining healthy and productive relationships with those we love.

A factoid: Alvino Malkeinu inspired Mogwai, a Scottish post-rock trio, to write a 20-minute, epic song called “My Father, My King.”


After Rosh Hashanah morning services, we met at the SaddleBrooke golf course lake to observe Tashlich. Readings and prayers were said among us. Our sins were cast into the water in the form of challah, matzah, wheat bread, pumpernickel, etc. As we begin another year, we look inward and hope for the best. Our thanks to Vivian Timian and the golf course staff, who helped us to observe our first SaddleBrooke Tashlich service.

IJSS wishes the community a good year—L’shana tovah.