Symbol, sound of the shofar explained 2nd-graders visit Lubavitch Center COLUMBIA

September 15, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

An article on Rosh Hashana in yesterday's Howard County editions incorrectly reported the date of the new Jewish year. The correct year is 5754.

The Sun regrets the error.

When 7-year-old Hannah Chalew pulled the long, meaty bone from a boiled animal horn yesterday, her second-grade classmates responded with a resounding, "ee-YEW!"

"When I pulled out the bone, it was weird," said Hannah, who got HTC a close-up look at the making of a shofar, or ceremonial ram's horn blown on Jewish high holy days.


She was among 58 students from the Krieger-Schechter Day School, a Jewish school in Baltimore County, who visited the Lubavitch Center for Jewish Education in Columbia for the eye-opening demonstration.

Cantors, rabbis and others will blow shofars in synagogues around the world on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown tonight.

Rosh Hashana marks the start of the Hebrew year 5774 and the beginning of the Ten Days of Penitence, which close on Sept. 25 with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. The shofar is sounded to remind Jews to be spiritually alert and God-abiding.

"It's a signal for action, for everyone to improve on being a betteperson," said Rabbi Hillel Baron, of the Orthodox Lubavitch congregation, which meets in the county's only free-standing synagogue. "Rosh Hashana is the day of judgment, the day of prayer."

In addition to praying on Rosh Hashana, Jewish people read the Torah, the five books of Moses; and ask God for forgiveness. It is also traditional for Jews to dip apples and bread into honey.

"It's a wish and a hope for a sweet year, a good year," Rabbi Baron explained.

During yesterday's lively 45-minute shofar-making classaccompanied by the smell of overcooked meat from the boiling horns, Rabbi Baron told the second-graders that shofars are hollow and come from kosher animals.

The horns come in various colors, depending on the animal's hue, and have three basic sounds: Tkiah (a loud blast), Shvarim (three broken medium-sized blasts), and Truah (nine very short sounds).

Rabbi Baron purchases the horns of rams and goats from a slaughterer in West Virginia and boils them -- sometimes with disinfectant -- to clean them. "Each shofar is different in size, the way it looks and sounds," he said.

The shofar is blown by placing the tip of the horn to the lips and blowing a stream of air into the mouthpiece.

"It sounds like crying or weeping," said Rabbi Baron.

Heather Greenberg, 7, who volunteered to blow the shofarmanaged to blow just enough air inside to make a slight noise.

"It felt good," she said. "It was fun."

During the class, students also touched the rabbi's goat in the back yard.

Said Marty Hendershot, 7, who touched the live animal's horn: "It felt like a real shofar."

Later, after pulling horns from a large boiling pot, Rabbi Baron had volunteers use a corkscrew to debone three and help saw the tips off them.

He then drilled two holes in the tip of each to make their mouthpieces. Afterward, the shofars were to be sanded and polished.

Teachers and students from the Baltimore County school were enthusiastic about the outing.

"We have a filmstrip on this," said Saundra Madoff, a second-grade teacher. "This is a lot better than a filmstrip."

"It was pretty neat," Michal Weiner, 7, said of the demonstration.

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