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Valencia Lakes couple seeks more homey setting for Rosh Hashanah


Bob and Tzipporah Whiteman will observe Rosh Hashanah at their Valencia Lakes home this year.

And invite members of the community to join them.

The Whitemans will offer non-traditional services, led by Rabbi Jonathon Katz, Oct, 2 and 3 at their Wimauma residence.

The smaller setting will facilitate a spiritually uplifting experience, offering worshipers more than the recitation of liturgy, said Katz, who recently retired from service at Temple Beth Israel in Longboat Key.

"It will be an adventure in Jewish worship and community for all who come," Katz said. "This gathering will be informative and compelling but also enjoyable and, dare I say, fun. "

Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is considered a holy day and marks a time for introspection among Jewish people.

In recent years, the Whitemans celebrated at a synagogue in Sun City Center. But after losing their adult daughter to cancer earlier this year, they wanted to do something different. They decided to make the holiday an intimate but open home event. A friend suggested contacting Katz.

"I was nervous because I thought nobody is going to support this crazy idea," Tzipporah Whiteman said. "But Rabbi Katz thought it sounded bold and adventurous."

Whiteman contacted neighborhood organizers in Valencia Lakes to help get the word out. By mid September, 20 people planned to attend. The Whitemans can host up to 50 people and invite anyone interested to contact them.

Services will include the blowing of the shofar, which signifies a call to worship, and community meals. On Oct. 4, the group will meet to honor Tashlikh, a symbolic cleansing of the sins, with a walk to nearby water. All the services will focus on renewal and connection.

"This is a time to turn inward, to be with people to express how we are feeling and how we can be better human beings," Whiteman said. "I'm hoping from this to form a chevra, a group of friends, and that we can continue to grow together on our Jewish journey."

To attend the Whitemans' services, for specific times and address, call (813) 260-3959.

Contact Sarah Whitman at