A man in a prayer shawl and wearing tefillin (phylacteries) blows a shofar, or ram’s horn. (Credit: Breaking Israel News)
This is the time of the shofar – the ram’s horn – that is blown by Jews at synagogue services
According to Jewish tradition, the shofar is a bent horn of a ram, reminding Jews one of Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his son Isaac who was most precious to him; the curve in the horn represents the contrition of the person who repents his sins. The pure and natural sounds of the shofar symbolize the lives that it calls Jews to lead.
There are three main types of sounds — tekia, shevarim and t’ruah. A fourth type, tekiah gedola, is a longer version of the regular tekia blast.
It has been suggested that the tekiya is a kind of summons or is the sound of a king’s coronation, thus calling on us to reaffirm God’s sovereignty on the Jewish New Year. Shevarim, which has been compared to the sound of weeping, is composed of three broken sounds, while tru’a is made up of nine rapid, staccato notes that are like an urgent alarm, calling us to awaken from our spiritual slumber.
Prof. Leah Fostick, an experimental psychologist and who founded in 2008 and is chairman of the department of communication disorders at Ariel University in Samaria, decided this past summer to investigate scientifically what emotions the various blasts of the shofar elicit in people. She also happens to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana for women at her synagogue, Shirat Aharon, in the city of Givat Shmuel near Tel Aviv.
Already a trumpet player, Fostick trained in shofar blowing with a fellow psychologist at Ariel University, Rabbi and Emeritus Prof. Harvey Babkoff, who was her mentor when she did her doctorate some 20 years ago. Others who were involved in the project were Howard Moskowitz, a Jew living in New York, and Ariel students Maayan Cytrin and Eshkar Yadgar.
Her team spent part of a day testing 40 Ariel University students, half of them women and half men. Some were modern Orthodox Jews, while the rest were secular.
The participants faced a computer screen to which earphones were attached and hear the three types of shofar blasts. Each group was accompanied with statements expressing feelings, and the participants were asked to choose the words that conveyed what they felt. After each set of sounds, they had to perform various cognitive tasks to blur the emotional impression that each blast created.
The result was that all the participants – including the secular Jews – felt emotions from the shofar sounds. evokes excitement, fear, anxiety, heaviness in the heart, expectation and awe. Shevarim evoked fear, anxiety and heaviness in the heart, while tru’a tended to elicit excitement, enthusiasm, restlessness, anticipation, joy and amazement.
There was a difference in women’s and men’s reporting mainly in response to the teki’a: Both genders described feelings of fear, but women also described excitement, anxiety and heaviness in the heart, while men described feelings of alertness, hope and awe. There were also some differences between secular and religious; both groups described feelings of fear and anxiety, but secular participants added feelings of watching and alertness compared to religious who added feelings of heaviness in their heart and awe.
All three types of sounds triggered in all the participants a sense of alertness, she said.
Fostick said in an interview that rams’ horns were blown in ancient history by all peoples as a call to war or for ceremonial purposes. “It was not only the Jews, but today, we are probably the only culture to do it. The sounds arouse feelings. The tru’a, which is blown fast, triggers happiness. The blasts that arouse anxiety and fear are related to the fact that we are facing the annual Day of Judgement.”
Her study has not yet been published, said Fostick, who is married (to an amateur shofar blower who works in hi-tech) and is the mother of six children aged five to 21.) “My husband says I blow the shofar better than he does.”
But she will present her findings in November at the 18th Annual Auditory Perception, Cognition and Action Meeting (APCAM 2019) will be held in Montreal in November.
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A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.