My father recently entered the magnanimous Philosopher King phase of his life. He is trumpeting his spirit and I had also trumpeted for many years in the medium of classical trumpet playing. What is a son but an extension of the father? Below is a brief meditation he wrote.
As a young boy I was interested in music featuring the trumpet and the shofar. I remember going to High Holiday Services looking forward to hearing the Shofar Blasts. Rabbi Kaplan always visited the youth service looking for volunteers to blow the Shofar. I always raised my hand. I wanted to blow the Shofar at the High Holiday Service, but it was a yearning I kept to myself. Coincidentally
I received an email from Rabbi Gerber saying he had heard I could blow the Shofar and our synagogue was in need this year. I had studied the trumpet and still possessed a Shofar my parents purchased when they had visited Israel. While I was interested, playing the Shofar at home and playing the Shofar on our holiest day in front of fellow congregants was a wholly different matter. I asked the Rabbi if we could meet for an audition and proceeded to tell him the background of my playing. I told him I was about to retire partly due to a successful heart operation that had me looking at the miracle of life differently. I had gone through a personal process of discovering my priorities—family, health, faith—and was trying to keep them in a positive perspective. Retiring is a scary phase in one’s life. I was also looking for a new purpose when the email from Rabbi Gerber came.
So on the second day of Rosh Hashanah I stood with our congregation and proudly blew the Shofar. My heart raced and I was extremely nervous. It felt like when I was called to the Torah in the same Synagogue in September 1969, 49 years ago. I was able to take my new found purpose and perform this time honored ritual so important to our faith.
My brother in law Rabbi Novoseller of Beth Tovim then asked if I could play the final Shofar blast at Neilah where my family celebrates break the fast, and so I did.
I did not realize the importance of the Shofar, until so many people came up to me saying that they thoroughly enjoyed the sound of my playing. I felt honored.
After the High Holidays I then traveled to Munich where my wife Leslie and I toured the The Central Synagogue and Jewish Museum. A part of the museum featured a Shofar to teach the Jewish Rituals. I asked our German guide if I could blow the Shofar and he immediately said “please do.” The sounds echoed through the Museum, and I can now say I am an international Shofar player.
As I finish my career I am starting to re-define my purpose which now includes playing the Shofar.