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The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is observed annually with prayers and a full day of fasting. It closes out the Days of Awe, which began on Rosh Hashanah.

In 2021, Rosh Hashanah began at sundown on September 6. Yom Kippur began at sundown on September 15.

Both holidays include the ritual of blowing the shofar, a ram’s horn. Matthew Cooper ‘14 has been carrying out this sacred task for many years at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk.

Mr. Cooper still recalls the blue plastic shofar that sparked his interest at age 5, and by age 13, he was participating in the adult services with an authentic shofar. He finds in this activity a profound sense of purpose.

“I love being a part of the Jewish community," he said. “What is the role I play in my religion? I have clear and concrete answer to that.”

A University of Virginia graduate, Cooper also recently graduated from UVA's School of Law. He is clerking for The Hon. Rebecca Beach Smith, a past Norfolk Academy Board of Trustees President. She is a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Matthew Cooper '14 at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, where he has been carrying out the sacred task of blowing the shofar.

Matthew Cooper '14 on September 15, 2021, Yom Kippur, at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, where he has been carrying out the sacred task of blowing the shofar, a ram’s horn.

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