PLATTSBURGH — The shofar, a hollowed-out horn from a kosher animal, aurally frames the 10 Days of Awe, the Jewish High Holy Days, which begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur.
In Hebrew, Rosh (head) and Hashanah (year), or New Year, starts Sunday at sundown with the blowing of the shofar.
“A ram’s horn is most common,” said Rabbi Kari Tuling of Temple Beth Israel in Plattsburgh. “It can’t be decorated or added to. It makes quite the sound. We blow it quite a bit during Rosh Hashanah morning service. It’s a big deal that way. There are several different tones we blow during the service.”
One tone is long and mournful. A second comprises three short notes. A third tone has nine-staccato notes.
“Trumpet players tend to be the most successful at it. I have learned how to do it. It’s hard. You just have to practice. Some people seem to have a gift for it. Some people practice and practice and sound terrible,” Tuling said.
If a shofar player executes a long sustained note for a really, really long time, they are considered a fine shofar player.
MAKING THINGS RIGHT
“The point of that (shofar) is to awaken your heart to recognize that you need to prepare yourself to be judged,” Tuling said. “Your deeds for the year have been judged. You have to figure out how to make things right. If you have wronged someone, you apologize and restore whatever needs to be restored.”
During the Days of Awe, God judges a person’s fate for the coming year.
“It’s more an idea of thinking in those terms. You prepare yourself beyond your day-to-day existence. Is your life worthy of being judged favorably? This is the time of year you take stock. You go back and call and say, ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.’ It’s our biggest holiday. It takes a lot of emotional preparation,” Tuling said.