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I Blow the Shofar

Menachem Shapiro, the writer, with the Alphornist, Niel Gow, at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

By Professor Menachem Shapiro

I was brought up in Chicago and received my rabbinical ordination from the father of Rabbi Zion Kaginoff. His son gave the author, a trumpeter, the privilege of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashana, taking the place of Dr. Friedman who had suddenly become ill on the bimah and couldn't blow the shofar. It reminded me of another musician, Leonard Bernstein, who was called up on short notice to take the place of a flu-stricken Bruno Walter, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. This opportunity catapulted Bernstein to fame.

For many years, I was the shofar-blower in my synagogue. After many years, I was glad to relinquish this mitzvah to a younger member - a wonderful trumpeter.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to tour the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Near Lake Louise, a well-built man sporting the traditional lederhosen, high knee socks, thick boots and a Tyrolean hat was blowing a long, heavy Alphorn. Noticing that I was wearing a kippa, he asked me if I came from Israel and we began to converse. I asked him if it was difficult to blow this huge, lengthy instrument. "Not at all," he replied. "I blow the shofar in my synagogue!" 

See also A Call and A Calling by Robert Manewith



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Friday, 19 July 2024

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