BOONE — Rabbi Alty Weinreb hopes for more love and understanding, and an end to the COVID-19, of course, as he reflects on the past year.
The Temple of the High Country celebrated Rosh Hashanah with two services on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, marking the beginning of the 10 holiest days in the Jewish calendar.
“This has been a very challenging year, but we have many silver linings,” Weinreb said.
Weinreb is the new Rabbi at the Temple of the High Country. He called his journey from New York to the Appalachian Mountains his “pioneer’s journey.” This was his first Rosh Hashanah in Boone.
The holiday, he said, is a time of great reflection for the Jewish community.
On Monday, Weinreb led parishioners in the blowing of the Shofar, the traditional Jewish practice that announces the commencement of Rosh Hashanah. Around half of Temple of the High Country’s members attended Rosh Hashanah services in-person, while the others celebrated virtually via Zoom.
“I know that people are burned out with Zoom, but it is a miracle technology and it has been a lifeline for many of our congregants,” Weinreb said.
The technology has given Boone’s Jewish community a way to move through the pain of the pandemic.
“If all we do is watch the news, and don’t see our friends and our rabbis, priests, imams, we can sometimes forget who we are. We sometimes need to hear the chanting of the prayers to make our hearts beat stronger,” Weinreb said.
Singing, combined with prayer, are a powerful “recipe for atonement,” Weinreb said.
Sometimes prayers are so powerful they must be sung three times, like the Kol Nidre, a prayer recited on the eve of Yom Kippur. The holiday, marked by 24 hours of fasting, is another day of deep reflection in the Jewish faith.
Temple of the High Country will observe the more solemn occasion, on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16, concluding the Jewish high holy days. They have collaborated with St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church, in Blowing Rock, on a service, Weinreb said.
“It represents an ideal of the world we imagine, of sharing this rock, this globe, together,” Weinreb said. “That is my prayer.”