ROSH HASHANA COUNTDOWN – DAY 5

Posted on September 24, 2011. Filed under: Cakes, Desserts, Honey, Jewish, Jewish Music, Jewish Prayers & Blessings, Kosher Recipe, Paerve, Parve, Recipes, Rosh Hashannah Recipes, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


The sound of the Shofar is music to our ears!

I am very proud to say that both my step-son-in-law and my step-grandson blow shofar and they join in with other members of their temple to sound it on Rosh Hashanah. My step-grandson, Marc, did an awesome job last year doing the bulk of the blowing. I am so proud of him. And I’m proud of my step-son-in-law, Jeremy, for instilling the traditions and the love of Judaism in Marc. I wish you could all hear Marc and Jeremy play. So I am dedicating this post to them.

To me, the sound of the shofar is sad yet somehow invigorating. I get choked up whenever I hear the shofar. It’s like a connection to all who came before me. I think I also get choked up because I know I should repent for what failings I have or had during the past years and I want to change but don’t know if I can, and when I was young, I would be standing with my younger sister between my parents to hear the sounding of the shofar and it was a moment of family togetherness. Now I stand next to my husband and feel his love for Judaism and me. Also I know that in a short while we will be sharing a delicious meal prepared by my step-daughter, Rhona. She’s a fantastic cook and a maven in the kitchen! Her challah cannot be beat!

Sadly, this year, we will not be joining Rhona nor my Mother and Aunt Hushie and Uncle Hockey nor our good friends Ellen, Gil and Sammy. Instead, we will join my step-son, Scott and my step-daughter-in-law, Lisa, and my step-grandchildren, Rachael and Josh. They don’t often get to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, so it is important for us to spend wonderful quality time with them. I look forward to seeing if Scott is going to make the matzah balls and if so, will they be from scratch or from a mix? It will be nice to be with them this year, especially because of Lisa’s return from the hospital and Paul’s return from the hospital too!

“The Bible calls the Rosh Hashanah, the day of the sounding of the Rams Horn.The Shofer is blown on all festivals and folkways. However legend has it that this was the day of which Adam was created out of clay. It was also the birthday of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It was the day on which Joseph was released from prison in Egypt, and it was the day Moses appeared before Pharaoh demanding that the Egyptian king let our people go. The shofer is blown every day in the month of Elul except on the Sabbath and provides the most impressive moment of the morning service. The Shofer is usually made from a Rams horn although it may also be made from the one of any of any kosher animal except the cattle or an ox. The horn is boiled in water until it gets soft.

The inside is then hollowed out and the horn is flattened slightly. The mouthpiece is then carefully shaped and the horn is put aside to harden.. Sometimes the shofer is made very long and very curved.
In biblical times the shofer was used to herald great moments. It proclaimed the ascent of a king upon the throne, it announced the Jubilee every 50th year and the beginning of the Shabbat and festivals. The shofar is also associated with the jubilee year in which, every fifty years, Jewish law provided for the release of all slaves, land, and debts. The sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah announced the jubilee year, and the sound of the shofar on Yom Kippur proclaimed the actual release of financial encumbrances.
In wartime it signaled the army.” http://mysite.verizon.net/~vze32qgw/Rosh_Hashana.htm

“The shofar was blown in the times of Joshua to help him capture Jericho. As they surrounded the walls, the shofar was blown and the Jews were able to capture the city. The shofar was commonly taken out to war so the troops would know when a battle would begin. The person who would blow the shofar would call out to the troops from atop a hill. All of the troops were able to hear the call of the shofar from their position because of its distinct sound.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shofar

In post-Biblical times, the shofar was enhanced in its religious use because of the ban on playing musical instruments as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the temple. (It is noted that a full orchestra played in the temple.) The shofar continues to announce the New Year and the new moon, to introduce Shabbat, to carry out the commandment to sound it on Rosh Hashanah, and to mark the end of the day of fasting on Yom Kippur once the services have completed in the evening. The secular uses have been discarded (although the shofar was sounded to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967) [2]

The shofar is primarily associated with Rosh Hashanah. Indeed, Rosh Hashanah is called “Yom T’ruah” (or “Yom Teruah”) (the day of the shofar blast). In the Mishnah, (book of early rabbinic laws derived from the Torah), a discussion centers on the centrality of the shofar in the time before the destruction of the second temple (70 AD). Indeed, the shofar was the center of the ceremony, with two silver trumpets playing a lesser role. On other solemn holidays, fasts, and new moon celebrations, two silver trumpets were featured, with one shofar playing a lesser role. The expert who blows (or “blasts” or “sounds”) the shofar is termed the Tokea (lit. “Blaster”) or Ba’al T’qiah (lit. “Master of the Blast”). Being a Ba’al T’qiah (shofar sounder) is an honor. Every male Jew is eligible for this sacred office, providing he is acceptable to the congregation. “The one who blows the shofar on Rosh Hashanah . . . should likewise be learned in the Torah and shall be God-fearing; the best man available.” If a potential choice will cause dissension, he should withdraw his candidacy, even if the improper person will be chosen. See Shulkhan Arukh 3:72. If a blind blower was dismissed, but the community did not find a blower as proficient, he should be appointed as community blower.

According to the Talmud, a shofar may be made from the horn of any animal from the Bovidae family except that of a cow or calf (Rosh Hashanah, 26a), although a ram is preferable. (Mishnah Berurah 586:1). Bovidae horns are made of keratin (the same material as human toenails and fingernails). An antler, on the other hand, is not a horn but solid bone. Antlers cannot be used as a shofar because they cannot be hollowed out.

In practice two species are generally used: the Ashkenazi and Sefardi shofar is made from the horn of a domestic ram, while a Yemeni shofar is made from the horn of a kudu. A Moroccan Shofar is a flat Shofar with no curves besides the main curve; years ago, when the Moroccan Jews were not allowed to practice Judaism, it was easy to hide it in their clothes because of its flat shape.

A crack or hole in the shofar affecting the sound renders it unfit for ceremonial use. A shofar may not be painted in colors, but it may be carved with artistic designs (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim, 586, 17). Shofars (especially the Sephardi shofars) are sometimes plated with silver across part of their length for display purposes, although this invalidates them for use in religious practices.

The horn is flattened and shaped by the application of heat, which softens it. A hole is made from the tip of the horn to the natural hollow inside. It is played much like a European brass instrument, with the player blowing through the hole, causing the air column inside to vibrate. Sephardi shofars usually have a carved mouthpiece resembling that of a European trumpet or French horn, but smaller. Ashkenazi shofars do not.

Because the hollow of the shofar is irregular in shape, the harmonics obtained when playing the instrument can vary: rather than a pure perfect fifth, intervals as narrow as a fourth, or as wide as a sixth may be produced.

In modern times, the shofar is used mainly on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is blown in synagogues to mark the end of the fast at Yom Kippur, and blown at four particular occasions in the prayers on Rosh Hashanah. Because of its inherent ties to the Days of Repentance and the inspiration that comes along with hearing its piercing blasts, the shofar is also blown after morning services for the entire month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish civil year and the sixth of the Jewish ecclesiastical year. It is not blown on the last day of month, however, to mark the difference between the voluntary blasts of the month and the mandatory blasts of the holiday. Shofar blasts are also used during penitential rituals such as Yom Kippur Katan and optional prayer services called during times of communal distress. The exact modes of sounding can vary from location to location.

In an effort to improve the skills of shofar blowers, an International Day of Shofar Study is observed on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the start of the month preceding Rosh Hashanah.

In times of National Liberation such as during the Ottoman and the British rule of Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to sound the shofar at the Western Wall. After the Six Day War, Rabbi Shlomo Goren famously approached the Wall and sounded the shofar. “
Footnote:

2. Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, Heritage of Music, New York: UAHC, 1972, pp. 44–45.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shofar

It’s way past my bedtime, it’s 2:39 a.m. according to my computer’s clock. So let me leave you with this honey cake recipe.

Yet Another Delicious Honey Cake Recipe!

Honey Cake W/Fruit Ii (P, Tnt)
==============================
Source: Great Aunt Rose Markowitz

Serves: 20

Fruit Mixture:

1/2 pound prunes, pitted
1 small can pineapple chunks
1/2 pound golden raisins
1 small can peaches

Cake:

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
1 pound honey
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweet red wine
1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained
Additional whole pecans for top, optional

Make Fruit Mixture:

In work bowl of food processor, grind fruit and set aside. This will make more fruit mixture than you will need for one cake so you can freeze the remainder.

Make Cake:

Grease bottom and sides of a 10-1/2″x15-1/2″ baking pan (large roasting pan). Line bottom with waxed or baking paper. If using
waxed paper, grease waxed paper also.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the large bowl of a mixer, cream shortening well, then add sugar and continue beating. Add eggs, one at a time, beating very well after each addition. Add honey, 3 heaping soup spoons full of ground fruit (remainder may be frozen for future use) and continue beating after each addition.

Sift flour, baking powder, and soda together, then add spices and
ground nuts. Combine wine and coffee. Alternate adding flour mixture
and coffee mixture to sugar/shortening mixture. Pour batter into baking pan.

Place cherries and nuts on top and bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Do not
open oven door until the cake has been in the oven for an hour, then
test for doneness. Cake will be done when it begins to move away from
the sides of the pan or a cake tester inserted into the middle comes
out clean. Remove cake from oven and turn it out onto a cooling rack,
remove the waxed or baking paper, turn again and cool.

Sue Epstein’s Notes: Great Aunt Rose Markowitz was the matriarch of the Epstein family. A family simcha wasn’t a simcha without one of her honey cakes… and for good reason… it’s wonderful! When Aunt Rose gave me this recipe she said she lines the pan with waxed paper. Aunt Esther insisted that Aunt Rose lined it with aluminum foil! Aunt Esther also sprinkled cloves over the top of the cake before baking and used exactly 30 whole pecans to decorate it. Today, I line the pan with baking paper and I miss their friendly arguments. This cake is as good today as it was more than 50+ years ago when Aunt Rose first started making it.

Posted by Sue Epstein

Servings: 20

SOFTA123’S NOTE: Please note that the photo of the coffee cake is a generic photo that I found on the Internet. It is not a photo of this recipe. Also I’d like to thank Sue Epstein for sharing this recipe with us and may her Aunt Rose rest in peace.

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