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Challah, Blasts of a Ram’s Horn Usher in Rosh Hashanah for Jews in the Ozarks

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Edsel Little
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Flickr: Used with Permission

Jews in the Ozarks are celebrating Rosh Hashanah until Tuesday with family, community, and symbolic foods. The Jewish New Year holiday celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world and is a chance for Jews worldwide to reflect on the past year and put forth a clean slate going into the next.

The symbolic blasts of the shofar, a hollowed out ram’s horn, filled the air in Jewish synagogues across the world this weekend. Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the High Holy Days and is treasured among Jews as a time of forgiveness, repentance, and happiness.

Christopher Kelts and his wife are part of the Jewish community in the Ozarks.  Kelts conducts the orchestra at Missouri State University, and he’s a board member of Temple Israel in Rogersville.

To celebrate the holiday among family and friends, they travel to St. Louis and attend services and prepare feasts of fruit, round challah and other kosher foods.

“In a lot of ways for me, personally, observing these holidays is what has kept the Jewish people here. It has kept us strong in our commitment to ritual and to each other and to the community," Kelts said.

Professor and author Mara Cohen Ioannides has written extensively about the Jewish community in the Ozarks. She says the Ozarks Jewish community includes just about 80 households, but the lone Jewish synagogue in the area is celebrating its 125th anniversary later this year.

Non-members wishing to attend holiday services should contact the synagogue for more information.

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