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Local rabbi adjusts High Holiday events for COVID-19, offers outdoor services

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Posted at 3:18 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 19:51:45-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — In a typical year, Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, of Chabad of the Bluegrass, would be readying for Rosh Hashanah as he has every other year of his life.

"Rosh Hashanah is the biggest synagogue day of the year. Jews who don't always attend every service will show up for Rosh Hashanah," Litvin said of the holiday to celebrate the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the High Holidays.

This year though, the celebration involves some creative thinking.

"I don't imagine any rabbi's not going to be talking about COVID-19," Litvin chuckled.

With the help of Home Depot and some industrious thinking by his wife, Litvin has set up a tent soon to be filled with socially-distanced tables and chairs to serve as an outdoor setting for this year's Rosh Hashanah celebrations on Sunday.

"Every hour we'll be having shofar blowings so that people can come in small groups and be able to participate," he said. "As well as if anyone is higher risk and they don't want to be in groups, they can stop by the Chabad center at any point on Sunday and have a shofar service done for them."

Part of Rosh Hashanah is about reflecting on the past year and preparing for the next. While no one could have predicted the events of 2020, Litvin said there are valuable lessons to learn.

"As we look ahead, we need to look at the past year and see what were the things we were overlooking that this has exposed, and how can we hone in on those better in the coming year," he said.

Lessons he looks forward to sharing, safely, in the outdoors.

"There needs to be a Jewish home for someone who wants to participate, that option needs to be offered," Litvin said.

The first shofar blowing is at 9 a.m. Sunday. The outdoor service will be from 10 a.m. to noon. Every hour from noon to 5 p.m. there will be a shofar at the center, and at 3 p.m. the shofar blowing will be on UK's campus.

Chabad of the Bluegrass is located at 568 Columbia Ave. in Lexington.

All services are free and open to the public, but you must RSVP to ensure social distancing.

RSVP by either emailing chabadofthebluegrass@gmail.com or texting 859-813-0770.