Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shofar, shogood?*

We are blessed at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover to have a shofar.

And just what is a shofar? A shofar is a horn, usually made out of a ram's horn, used in some Jewish worship services. The shofar is used particularly for the "Days of Awe" -- the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Joshua famously makes the walls of Jericho come tumbling down by blowing the shofar.

This Sunday, September 27, my sermon will be about Yom Kippur from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. I am especially looking forward to blowing the shofar. I have no special training in this, mind you, but as an enthusiastic (but very amateurish!) trumpeter, I'm able to get a decent sound out of it. Let's hope I manage to do this Sunday under pressure!

I have noticed that the shofar has a rather unpleasant smell. It turns out that this is common, and it's apparently due to the rotting flesh of the ram. It's a real horn, after all. Some refer to this smell as "shofaritis". On my list of things to do this week is to clean the shofar the best I can, because let me tell you... the smell can nearly knock you out!

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a wonderful and inspiring holiday indeed. To quote Robert Eller-Isaacs, "We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love." May it be so.

Visit the website for Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness, (according the the website) "an organization committed to addressing the Jewish dimension of Unitarian Universalism’s multicultural challenge." Among other things, UUJA works "to help people deepen their understanding of Judaism and the ways it has impacted, and can continue to develop, our Unitarian Universalist faith."

*I thought I had invented "shofar, shogood" when I first thought of it, but a Google search reveals that many, many people before me thought of this! I guess everyone loves a pun.

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