Yom Kippur
Yom KippurAyelet HaShachar

Every High Holiday season, I am honored to serve as rabbi alongside my dear friend Cantor Laivi Freundlich on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He is a devout Chabad Hassid, and I am a dedicated Litvak of a non-Hassidic background. This year, after Rosh Hashannah morning services ended and before the afternoon services began, I got a second wind and decided to do the Chabad thing and go with him to blow Shofar on the streets of the Upper East Side.

We took to the streets to see who might be Jewish and interested in hearing the sound of the Shofar. Passing near a packed outdoor dining area of several restaurants, all not Kosher, some even serving shrimps, we noticed that many of the diners looked Jewish, some of whom even nodded to us a Shana Tova.

My friend Cantor Laivi did not need a further invitation. He took the Shofar and, without anyone asking him to, blew the Shofar. Not just once or one set, but rather the gamut of Shofar sounds.

Not sure how people will respond to their meal being disrupted with no advance notice; I didn't want to look at the diners. As someone not used to the Chabad style Mivtzaim, I was somewhat embarrassed. I did not know if the audience appreciated this disruption to their meal. I kept my eyes down as the Shofar was blowing.

Suddenly, as the Shofar sound came to its conclusion, I heard a thunder of applause and saw a standing ovation. Faces were smiling. Moms were holding their kids, explaining to them that it's Rosh Hashanah, fellow Jews wishing us Shana Tova.

Once again, I was reminded that seldom are our fellow Jews offended by us reaching out to them. The same audience, busy eating non-Kosher food a minute ago, was thrilled to partake in the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar. At this time, our shared Judaism meant to them more than anything else. The joy, the gratitude, and the camaraderie all just burst out.

At that time, I wondered why we didn't do this more often. Our fellow Jews are waiting for someone to reach out; we just need to be the person that reaches out.

This Yom Kippur, when people who do not usually enter the synagogue come for Kol Nidrei or to Yizkar services, we have another chance.

Shana Tova