A few days ago, I took the younger three boys (7, 6, 4) to a shofar workshop. If I had realized what it was going to be, I would have taken ds11 as well, but I thought it wouldn’t be suitable for him.
This wonderful workshop began with songs and dancing. This was followed with an explanation about the shofar and why a horn is used. He brought several musical instruments and demonstrated how they each could make a sound similar to a shofar – why couldn’t they be used? After explaining this, he showed the group a number of different kinds of animal horns and antlers.
Then he demonstrated how to make a shofar from the horn of an animal (I don’t remember if he said it was a goat?), describing the process and showing the power tools that are used. He even showed how he takes out the hardened cartilage inside the horn in one big chunk!
This was so interesting and well-done, and I found it fascinating. He managed to keep a group of about 100 kids interested for over an hour, which was pretty impressive. I thought it was over, when he told the kids to line up and began distributing horns for each child to make their own shofar! Each child was given the horn along with a piece of sandpaper, and sanded his horn down. Then they each had a hole drilled in the mouthpiece and – voila- they each had their own shofar! Really informative, interesting and fun!
Then on Friday afternoon, I took the same boys to the old age home for a pre-Rosh Hashana visit. Dd17 had once taken the boys with her and they found it awkward, since they didn’t know anyone there. This time we joined three other families and that made what is initially uncomfortable less so. The children gave out greeting cards that had been prepared the day before (preceding the shofar making workshop) to each senior they saw, wishing them a “Shana tova”, a good new year. Ds7 was a little nervous about this but did it; ds6 and ds4 stuck close to me holding my hands. Ds6 did give out a couple of cards.
Then a couple of the fathers sang a Shabbos song and danced with the kids. After that, we went to the second floor and did the same thing. On that floor the residents were in worse physical condition than the first floor, and I directed the kids away from a couple of sights that I thought would be too much for them. I don’t think that next time I would go on this floor with them. The residents are less present and while I’m sure they appreciated it, the residents on the first floor were much more appreciative, smiling and one woman telling us as we left, “Come back every week!”
It was tough to get out on Friday afternoon when I still had so much to do, but I wanted the kids to have a sense that before Rosh Hashana we can think about what we can do for others, not just ourselves and I was really glad to have done this. I told the organizer to let me know when they plan to go again, that we’d like to participate when they go again. Perhaps with time it will become more comfortable to go with just our family.
Then later this afternoon ds11 and ds7 went out for what has become an annual family tradition since moving here – pomegranate picking! They came home loaded down and tomorrow I’ll sit them down and let them deseed as many as they have the patience for. A favourite salad that I serve at every meal on Rosh Hashana is pomegranate salad, so we can’t have too many!