Monday, September 17, 2012

Shofar Madness

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:23-24)

That was Street Shofar by Isaac Feder, and the write-up on YouTube says

WAKE UP. Who do you want to be in 5773?  
Michael Brous is Sexy Shofar Man.
Directed by - Isaac Feder
Produced by - David Light
Concept by - Jonathan Golub
Cinematography by - Jason Oldak and Kobi Zaig
Edited by - Michael Sheehan and Anders Hoffmann
Add'l Camera - Micha Kinsbruner
Huge thank you - Morgan Keiser, Dan Messinger, Adam Miller, Rachel Light, LA Breakers, Amazing Pinatas, Inc, La Golondrina Oaxaquena, and Rabbi Sharon Brous.  
The shofar blast is a call to wake up to what's possible for ourselves and our world this Jewish new year.

And now, how about a Shofar flashmob?

This 2011 video from Art Kibbutz has the following write-up on YouTube:

Shana tova - Happy New Year from Art Kibbutz NYC  
Enjoy Art Kibbutz NYC's amazing, free Rosh Hashana greeting card wishing you Shana Tova / a Happy New Year featuring our Shofar FlashMob participants worldwide.  
17 cities worldwide participated - Digital Rosh Hashana Card Is Fashioned from Footage - creating the glorious cacophony envisioned by its founders...and then some.  
From the United States to Europe to Israel and beyond established and emerging artists gathered together with creative volunteers in the week before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, to sound the Shofar just for you in places both urban and rural, traditional and off-the-beaten-track.  
Art Kibbutz's central NYC Shofar FlashMob proved so successful that it was necessary to create two consecutive blowings at the Lincoln Center location for eager latecomers already wearing their tuxedos. The experimental jazzy flashmob at the JCC in Manhattan and the Jerusalem Shofar FlashMob both featured Rav Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook's Shofar poem, performed by Rabbi Yitzhak Marmorstein, Jake Marmer, Rabbi Greg Wall and Jordan Hirsch.  
At Art Kibbutz's public art project there was sound, there was spirit, there was community but there was so much more. The sight of people gathering to sound the ancient ram's horn stopped passers-by in their tracks, fulfilling the Shofar's truest functions: creating energy, awareness and intentional community.  
In addition to New York City, footage from Shofar FlashMobs in Jerusalem (Israel), Budapest (Hungary), Tbilisi (Georgia), Kiev (Ukraine), Gomel (Belarus), Chicago (Illinois), Milwakee (Wisconsin), San Francisco (California), Oakland (California), Las Vegas (Nevada), Los Angeles (California), Tulsa (Oklahoma), Wolcott (Vermont), Salem (Massachusetts), and St. Louis (Missouri) comprise Art Kibbutz's edgy Rosh Hashana art video greeting.  
 Art Kibbutz wishes you Shana tova - Happy New Year!!!

But were you about to ask, where do shofars come from?  Of course you were, and we at Congregation Adas Emuno are only too happy to provide you with an answer (you may have to turn up the volume for this video):

Now, you were no doubt wondering, what about some shofar-oriented hip hop music?  Well, no worries, we got you covered:

That was Shofar Callin': The Rosh Hashanah Song by Prodezra Beats.  And once more, here's the write-up on YouTube:

Shofar Callin' connects the story Jews read on the New Year -- when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac -- with the ritual blowing of the Shofar, or ram's horn. What's the connection?  
Find out how the Jewish New Year is WAY more than just a day to spend in synagogue, and how the call of the Shofar can be spiritually meaningful in your daily life.  
Prodezra Beats, an independent artist, broke out big on the scene when he produced the track for "Change" with Y-Love & DeScribe, released on Shemspeed. Now with the "Shofar Callin'" track for Rosh Hashanah, he is back with another viral hit!  
This G-dcast will have you bumping into the new year in no time! Shana tova.

Now, you're saying, it's all well and fine to have a song about the shofar, but you can't really play anything on the shofar can you?  Well, how about Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem:

Mazel tov to David Zasloff on this amazing achievement!  And here's another player who made it all the way to Conan O'Brien, courtesy of New Jersey native Max Weinberg:

Well, that was a bit irreverent, you're right, but how can you be Jewish and not have a sense of humor?  But still, you have to inquire, is the shofar good for anything else?  Funny you should ask...

There are many shofar stories, some we must never forget.  Here is a video made available by the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum on Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah in the Kovno Ghetto:

And this is what they had to say about it:

Shmuel Daitch Ben Menachem was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1924, to a religious family. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the family was deported with the rest of the Jews of Kovno into the ghetto in the Slobodka neighborhood. In October 1941, Shmuel's parents and older brother were murdered in the Ninth Fort in Kovno. Surviving the selection with his younger brother and sister, Shmuel joined the Zionist ABC Youth Movement in the ghetto, becoming a member of the underground. He eventually fled the ghetto and joined the Zionist partisans, living in the forest and helping Jews escape from the ghetto. Wounded during a Lithuanian ambush, Shmuel managed to escape and remained hidden in the forest until liberation by the Soviet army. Immigrating to Eretz Israel after the war, Shmuel participated in Israel's War of Independence in the "Shimshon Foxes" battalion.
And these are the credits:
Excerpt from: "Ghetto Kovno - Religious Life in Slobodka"
Director: Itay Ken Tor
Producers: Noemi Schory, Liat Benhabib, Alona Schory
Production company: Belfilms Ltd.

Let us conclude on a note of awakening and redemption, a traditional, skillful and spiritual sounding of the shofar by Cantor Benjamin Warschawski of Congregation Ezra-Habonim in Skokie, Illiniois:

And as a perfect companion to these sounds, here is a Prayer for the Sounding of the Shofar by Rabbi David Wolpe, published last year in the Huffington Post online:

Dear God, 
Moses, placed in the basket by the river, kept silent, too frightened to cry. 
Abraham, walking up the mountain with Isaac, kept silent, refusing to give way to the wild sounds of his own grief. 
When Aaron's children were taken from him, Aaron was silent for there were no words. 
Ruth walked without a sound to the fields for she could give no voice to her loss and her hope. 
We, too, are fearful. We stay hidden behind our respectable masks, our tears dried, our faces composed. Our fears are unexpressed, our cries buried deep within. 
Like Moses, Abraham, Aaron, Rachel, we are too awed or too timid or simply too self-conscious to open our wounds to the world. 
You have given us a way to cry. Behind the thicket Abraham found the ram and the instrument of our expression. 
The shofar will cry for us. 
In the shevarim, the brokenness that afflicts our hearts. 
In the teruah, the blasts of pain or hope or recognition that sometimes sear our souls. 
In the tekiah, the hope for wholeness. We cry out from healing as we do from hurt. 
We cry in supplication, in loss, in love. 
Dear God, help us learn the sounds of the shofar. The sound of our history. The sound of our sorrows. 
Let it draw us closer to You with each blast, with each whispered promise, with each unspoken prayer. 
TEKIAH GEDOLAH. For ourselves, our ancestors, our children, let us listen to the cries of the shofar. In each note is the secret, ancient anguish of the Jewish heart. 
In its sound is our awakening and hope for redemption.

And with the sounds of the shofar still fresh in memory, we wish you all L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi from Congregation Adas Emuno!

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