The only shofar sounds we hear
are beep of horn and screech of brakes.
Shul is off-limits to us now.
Each cluttered room a temple makes.
No reader chants the liturgy
anywhere close enough to hear.
Far from the well-groomed congregants
we greet the dawning of the year.
Murmuring platitudes, I nurse,
powerless to effect a cure,
seeking, as I atone, the strength
to cope with crises and endure.
I work through all High Holy Days.
All days are sacred to me now.
Even as I repent, I sin.
Please, God, forgive me, anyhow.
I used to pray for all the world
another time, another place.
The cares of all humanity
once I was eager to embrace.
This whirling twirling swirling globe
of peace and beauty, fear and hate,
that rested lightly in my palm
now suffocates me with its weight.
So this New Year, I pray for three:
my mother’s life; my sister’s; mine.
Restore their health, renew our hope,
the dust beseeches the Divine.
My father from the mirror stares,
and I avert my eyes to weep.
Inscribe us, God, for life and love.
Our sins forgive; our secrets keep.
Our winner, Rita Janice Traub, writes: “I’m pretty much sequestered, am still a caregiver, have no car, don’t want to lose contact with my Jewish heritage although ours has always been a somewhat atypical Jewish family.
“You didn’t ask about biographies, but I’ll volunteer that I’ve been writing both prose and poetry since early childhood; writing is my joy. I was born in New York City, and my hometown is Baltimore. My career was mostly in California litigation law firms (I have a law degree), where I did lots of writing of briefs and motions. It was pressure work; and, to avoid burn-out, I’d turn to poetry. I am now a Georgia resident. I operate a small part-time business (transcription, editing and writing) from my home in Fulton County.”
Pronounced: sho-FAR or SHO-far, Origin: Hebrew, a ram’s horn that is sounded during the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah, and on Yom Kippur. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, in reference to its ceremonial use in the Temple and to its function as a signal-horn of war.