Family

Shofar, So Good: Theology for Kids via YouTube

I woke up to an email from my mom this morning, featuring a little backdoor Jewish New Year guilt. To be fair, she also wanted to let me know how much she was enjoying American Wife, which I gave her … Read More

By / September 29, 2008

I woke up to an email from my mom this morning, featuring a little backdoor Jewish New Year guilt. To be fair, she also wanted to let me know how much she was enjoying American Wife, which I gave her for her birthday. Here’s what mom said:

“Happy New Year. I know this doesn’t mean much to you, but the combination of school starting, my birthday and Rosh Hashanah has always been the start of a new year for me. I wish I could capture and explain how special this time of year was when I was growing up.”

Yes, yes, I know. Things were so much better in New Jersey in the 1950s. As soon as I closed the email, I did an abashed Google search for “shofar.” A wise acquaintance of mine has said that a Jew need fulfill only one true requirement on Rosh Hashanah: He or she must hear the call of the ram’s horn. Not surprisingly, there were lots of videos of shofar playing on YouTube.

Elijah woke up at 8:15. There was no school today for “teacher training,” which is good, because the kids needed a break after nearly two weeks of rigorous study. He came down into my basement, where I was sampling shofar videos. I decided this was a perfect time for a little low-level Jewish education.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” he said. “Can I watch a show?”

“Sure,” I said. “But first, come over here. I want to play something for you.”

“What?” he said, suspiciously. He sensed that I was about to delay his Spongebob fix for something ostensibly edifying.

“Well, you know how the Jewish calendar is different than the regular calendar?”

“No.”

“There are different months and it moves in different cycles.”

“OK.”

“Tonight starts the Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah.”

“OK.”

“And to ring in the New Year, someone blows a ram’s horn at temple.”

“Why?”

“For many ancient reasons.”

“OK.”

“Anyway, I have a video of someone blowing a horn here. Do you want to see it?”

“OK.”

He came over and snuggled. I called up a video of a cantor at a congregation in Skokie, Illinois. I chose it because he was wearing what Elijah would probably consider a funny hat, and also because it was only two-and-a-half minutes long. The tikiyah call went out, and the first bleat escaped the horn. Elijah smiled at the funny sound. He liked the second blow, too.

Click here to read the rest….