The organization Ayelet Hashachar is training hundreds of new ‘ba’alei tekiah’ – or shofar blowers – in towns across Israel ahead of the High Holidays.

The effort comes ahead of a planned lockdown across Israel spanning the Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur – Sukkot holiday season, strictly limiting the size of prayer groups and forcing most Israelis to conduct holiday prayers outside of the synagogue in small, informal prayer groups, often in public parks or parking lots.

Without large, centralized prayer groups in synagogues, where large numbers of worshippers can rely on a single shofar blower, the new, small prayer groups will require new shofar blowers to perform the ritual shofar blowing during the holidays.

Ayelet Hashachar, founded by Rabbi Shlomo Raanan, is working to train hundreds of new shofar blowers for these small prayer groups, including many in kibbutzim and moshavim.

“The idea started in the field, as always,” said Rabbi Raanan. “For many years we helped people in the kibbutzim and moshavim to organize prayer groups. We sent volunteers to organize the prayers in places which had never had prayer quorums ever, even on Yom Kippur.”

This year, however, due to the coronavirus restrictions, Ayelet Hashachar is unable to send volunteers to the many towns and neighborhoods requesting assistance in organizing prayer groups.

To help provide the informal prayer groups with shofar blowers during the pandemic, Ayelet Hashachar is training hundreds of new shofar blowers, who also are receiving guidance on how to lead the prayer groups through holiday prayers.

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