Temple Beth-El prepares for Rosh Hashannah with shofar-making workshop for students

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By Sherrie Negrea

Nearly 30 elementary and middle school students learned the ancient art of making a shofar – the Biblical bugle made from a ram’s horn – at a special workshop at Temple Beth-El to celebrate the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sundown Wednesday, September 20.

The students sanded and polished the rams’ horns at the workshop on Wednesday, September 13, at the Rabbi Felix Aber Religious School, at 402 N. Tioga St. They then practiced blowing the three distinctive notes on the shofars, which they will bring to services for Rosh Hashanah and the close of Yom Kippur.

“This is a hands-on way for the kids to be learning about our heritage and connecting it to the holiday,” said Rabbi Suzanne Brody, director of the religious school. “We thought it would be a really exciting way to start the school year.”

During the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the shofar is sounded 100 times in synagogues to mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The use of the shofar recalls the story in the Hebrew Bible, read on the holiday, in which Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, but through divine intervention spared his life and offered up a ram instead.

“It’s a sacred exercise for Jews,” said Rabbi Dovid Birk, program director at Chabad Cornell, who led the workshop. “There’s something in the process of hearing the sound of the shofar that inspires us on this day and moves us to repentance.”

Birk, who has led shofar workshops at Cornell, drilled holes in the rams’ horns before the students sanded and polished them. He said the rams’ horns were purchased from a farmer in Texas.

“This is a fun and exciting way to be introduced to what a shofar is,” Birk said. “And it’s also a way to get into the mood of being involved in the awesome days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

For more information, please contact Rabbi Suzanne Brody at (607)273-5775 or at director@tbeithaca.org.

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