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Shofar Humility


It's pretty humble in terms of its origin. In a single afternoon, our family takes part in a program that lets us select, cut and polish our own ram's horn — the religious article known as the shofar. From that very moment of ownership, I wanted to play it as best as I could, hoping for the chance to herald the Jewish new year.

Before I owned this sacred article, I used to watch a gentleman named Ethan who blew shofar in the Queens synagogue I frequented. Then I moved to Long Island. All congregants could play at the culmination of the holidays at the Wantagh synagogue we attended, but only specific people could blow shofar at specific services. Every year, our family watched two men who shared the honor.

Gratefully, over time inclusivity reigned. Our temple gave any volunteer a chance to learn how and blow shofar, giving an amateur like me the way to perform a mitzvah — a good deed.

In an unexpected turn of events, this year we are no longer confined to the temple on holiday morning for the ushering in of the year 5781. The sound of the shofar will be played and heard in surprising new places and ways. And I will catch my breath, literally and figuratively, hoping I do it justice.

There's the digital way: two weeks ago, standing in proper attire against the wall in our dining room, my son, husband and I shared this responsibility while five other players throughout the community played in their own homes — all to be prerecorded by our clergy on Zoom.

There's the socially distant way: second day of the holiday we will contribute to a "drive by" shofar service with participants more than six feet apart and safe.

And through all of this, I am humbled. Humbled at the creativity to make a new tradition from an old one. Humbled at my continued sincere attempt to hit the notes, some times being much better than others. Humbled that for thousands of years this practice has brought the community together and now it will happen again, despite a pandemic. When you stop and consider it's all pretty miraculous, even for what was once a simple ram's horn.

A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches marketing fundamentals as well as advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology and SUNY Old Westbury.