Shofar blowing is often being pre-recorded this year for virtual ceremonies. For this purpose, the shofar blown in Auschwitz that is on view in the Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. exhibition was recently blown by Museum Trustee Herbert Block, with his son Isaac serving as makri, in the Museum’s Garden of Stones. Watch them in the video below and read their thoughts on this experience.
Being a Baal Tekiah (shofar blower) has been one of the most meaningful annual Jewish experiences for me for many years. It is an opportunity to perform a commandment from the Torah and also to enable each member of the congregation to fulfill their mitzvah obligation of hearing the shofar.
The sounds of the shofar are a stirring call to Jewish people at the start of each New Year and the shofar itself is one of the most visible symbols and images of Judaism. Each year the shofar notes are a clarion call to our community for our renewal on Rosh Hashanah.
To have had the opportunity to blow a shofar that was sounded in Auschwitz was a truly inspirational moment. I was thinking of the risks and efforts that our Jewish brethren and martyrs took to perform this mitzvah in the camp. It reminds us of the traditions that bind together the Jewish people and have sustained us through periods of great tragedy. It was a hard shofar to blow but that just reminded me of the difficulties the Jewish people overcame during the Shoah to keep our faith. That this shofar survived shows us the indomitable spirt of Am Yisrael.
I have always enjoyed hearing my father blow the shofar each year, but never more so than when listening to this particularly meaningful shofar. It was an honor for me to be the makri and call out notes and help enable Jews around the world to hear the enduring sounds of this shofar, which is a piece of our Jewish history.
Herbert Block serves as Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement and represents New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as an ex-officio member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. Isaac Block, 17, is a senior at Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) High School.