Horns aplenty at Monmouth Reform’s ‘Shofaron’
They can’t promise 76 trombones, but Monmouth Reform Temple is hosting what they are calling the region’s first-ever gathering of “master” shofar blowers.
Experienced shofar players from Monmouth County synagogues of all denominations are welcome to attend what organizers have dubbed a “Shofaron” on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
The event is the brainchild of Richard Sachs of Middletown, MRT’s “master blaster” for the last 22 years.
“My goal is to unite shofar blowers to swap stories, learn from each other, and celebrate our love for the mitzva of hearing the shofar,” said Sachs, a retired engineer, who also plays French horn for the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra.
“We ask that ba’alei teki’a bring their shofars and their passion for playing,” he said. “We will discuss what the texts tell us about shofar blowing and learn the differences and similarities of each of our shofar traditions.”
Sachs will share his knowledge as a longtime shofar teacher at MRT’s religious school, as well as his experiences from attending the International Day of Shofar Study the day before, Aug. 29, in New York City.
MRT’s shofar event corresponds with the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
“There’s nothing like the sound of a shofar to announce the month of Elul and the need to examine our souls and prepare for the High Holy Days,” said MRT’s Cantor Gabrielle Clissold.
“Richard is an incredible shofar master who is devoted to both fine music and Judaism,” said the congregation’s Rabbi Michelle Pearlman. “He trains younger and older temple members alike in the joys of the shofar. At the Shofaron, those who help others fulfill the mitzva of hearing the shofar will be enriched through sharing with colleagues.”
The event, said Sachs, will offer a rare opportunity for shofar colleagues to meet for the first time.
For Sachs, blowing the shofar on holidays is an emotional as well as a spiritual experience, he said. For the last 12 years on the High Holy Days, he has organized a shofar ensemble that plays a call-and-response medley throughout the sanctuary. The ensemble ranges from four to eight players, some of whom are b’nei mitzva students who have studied shofar with Sachs.
“There are more than 500 people in the sanctuary listening. The joy on everyone’s faces makes me so happy to carry on this mitzva,” said Sachs.
Two years ago on Rosh Hashana, Sachs had even more reason to celebrate as he sounded the teki’a as a guest shofar player at Temple Israel in Boston. “My wife and I were in Boston awaiting the birth of our grandchild. Eli was born three hours before the service started, so I was blowing for multiple reasons: as part of the service and for joy at the arrival of our grandson.”