Ram’s horn signals ‘holiest Jewish season’

LYNNWOOD — It’s the “pure voice of the soul.”

Traditionally during Judaism’s High Holidays, the sound of a ram’s horn, or shofar, is heard in Jewish homes and houses of worship.

Leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the Chabad Jewish Center in Lynnwood hosted a workshop earlier this week during which people of all faiths could make a shofar.

The shofar is an ancient, simple wind instrument fashioned from a ram’s horn. Hollowed of its internal cartilage after boiling and clipped at its tip, the instrument produces a stirring, mystical tone, said Rabbi Berel Paltiel, director of the center. Each individual hears something of himself or herself in the shofar’s voice at a time when each looks inward to examine his relationship with God and how he or she will do better in the new year.

“Thus it’s most fitting and quite uplifting for the shofar to be blown during the High Holidays, the holiest Jewish season of the year,” Paltiel said.

According to Jewish history, the sound of a shofar accompanied God’s giving of the Torah to the ancient Hebrews as they stood at the foot of Mount Sinai. In addition, Jewish tradition has it that the Messianic Era, a time of world peace, will be ushered in with the sounding of the Great Shofar, Paltiel said.

On Sunday at the Chabad center, Rabbi Shimon Emlen of Seattle came to talk about the shofar. Before people began working on the animal horns, he explained how to blow the shofar and how to clean it for kosher use.

“And it has to look really cool,” Emlen said with a laugh.

Eager to get started on the project was Michael Williamson, who lives on the Snohomish County side of Bothell with his wife and daughter.

“As a kid, my dad had a long shofar,” Williamson said. “My parents raised goats in Bellingham and used some of the horns for shofars.”

Goldie Patiel, wife of the center’s rabbi, told the story of how she labored for days before the birth of her first child. With encouragement from her mother-in-law in Brooklyn, N.Y., she carried a shofar horn tip with her when she was pregnant with her second child. That baby nearly was born in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, she said.

Dale Arends lives in Lake Stevens and drives to the Chabad center to learn more about his heritage.

“The shofar is a further connection to the Judaism in my background,” Arends said. “I love that the folks at the Chabad center are big on getting people back to connect with their roots and faith.”

About 25 people regularly attend services at the Chabad Jewish Center, Goldie Paltiel said. The shofar workshop was just another way to help build the community that so many people desire, she said.

“Chassidism teaches that the call of the shofar is reminiscent of the pure voice of the soul,” Rabbi Paltiel said. “The various notes sounded with the Shofar remind one of weeping, which stirs people to better their ways, which is among the central themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County: 19626 76th Ave. W., Suite B, Lynnwood. More information is at www.JewishSnohomish.com or by phoning 425-640-2811.

Chabad of Snohomish County plans High Holiday Services.

Rosh Hashana evening service, 7 p.m. Sunday; morning services, 10 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, followed by the blowing of the shofar and community Kiddush service. For Yom Kippur services, see the faith calendar in this newspaper.

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