RABBI BEREL ZAKLIKOFSKY blows a shofar, a hallowed-out ram’s horn, Wednesday at his Goodyear home. Zaklikofsky and his wife, Chana, are educating West Valley residents about the Jewish High Holidays. View photo by Michael Clawson
The sound of Rabbi Berel Zaklikofsky's shofar will welcome in the Jewish High Holidays this weekend in Goodyear.


Typically made from a ram's horn, a shofar is most commonly associated with Rosh Hashana, which marks the creation of the world and the first days of the new year in Judaism.


"It's like an alarm clock. It's a reminder that Rosh Hashana is coming and for you to wake up, since it's a time where God is much closer to us," Berel's wife, Chana, explained.




Lighting the darkness

It is also believed that on Rosh Hashana God begins to plan the coming year for each person.

Eating apples and honey is a traditional food for the holiday for its symbolism.

"One of the things we do when asking God to give us a sweet new year, is we take an apple, and we dip it in honey," Berel said.

Ten days later, the plans are written down in the Book of Life on Yom Kippur, the second holiday in the High Holidays and the most holy day in the Jewish calendar.

The 10-day period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are typically used as a period of reflection over the past year, Chana explained.

However, Berel added that the overall theme for Yom Kippur to remember is God's forgiveness and that "and as long as we do our best, God does the rest."

"The idea of Yom Kippur is more like a second chance, it's more the idea that God never turned anyone down because they did something bad. We have to remember that God didn't forget about us just because we did something wrong. There's always a chance to put light where that darkness was."

Another important aspect of the High Holidays is the idea of teaching goodness and kindness to make the world a better place, especially for children.

"The little bit that we do makes a big difference to God and to the world, every good that we do makes the world a better place. Starting the year, we want to have that focus," Berel said. "When you raise a family like that, when you raise children like that, that's where the next generation comes from."


The idea of family is especially meaningful for Berel. Roughly two years ago, the Zaklikofskys moved from their home in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Goodyear to establish the area's only Chabad center.

Now, they have two children and a growing center.

"The experience has been amazing. We were worried that there wasn't going to be any following. We worked really hard, my wife and I, we looked into this place two years ago one family at a time," he recalled. "When we moved here, there were about 45 or 50 families on our list, now there are about 200, so the work is paying off, there's a lot of interest."

The philosophy of the Chabad movement is to welcome all Jews regardless of background or aff