By Joshua Burd
Rabbi Levi Azimov concentrated as he gripped the electric drill that buzzed noisily in his right hand, boring into the tip of the ram’s horn he held in his left.
After several seconds he stopped and blew the residue from the dark-colored horn. Then he placed his lips on the end, took a deep breath and blew inside, belting out a staccato of high-pitched notes to the satisfaction of the small crowd of children around him.
“It’s the first “shofar’ factory in South Brunswick!” Azimov boasted, referring to the horn by its traditional Jewish name.
He repeated those steps several times yesterday morning at the Chabad Jewish Center of South Brunswick, NJ — which is actually located on Riva Avenue in North Brunswick — as about a dozen young congregants learned how to make their own shofars.
The hands-on workshop was held to mark Rosh Hashana, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown today and lasts through Wednesday, Oct. 1. The shofar, a semi-musical horn, is used by Jews to celebrate the holiday by evoking key events in their history that involve a ram’s horn.
“It’s the command of the day to hear the sound of the shofar,” said Azimov, who is the director of Chabad of South Brunswick. He added “This is the time of year we renew our contract with God.”
During the workshop, children between 6 and 13 years old learned the steps of making a shofar and got the chance to make their own after Azimov drilled out the tips of the horns. The horns come from rams raised in Texas and are hollowed out before they are shipped.
So the house on Riva Avenue, where the congregation gathers, buzzed for about an hour as the children sawed, sanded and varnished their own shofars.
When each was instrument was dry, Azimov finished by drilling a larger hole and then blessing the horn.
Azimov’s 8-year-old son Mendel said the toughest step was sanding the horn, which took about 20 minutes. When asked, he knew exactly what he was supposed to do with his new instrument.
“Blow it on Rosh Hashana!” he exclaimed.
The Chabad Jewish Center of South Brunswick, which Azimov said serves up to 150 people in the area, will hold Rosh Hashana services at the 1 Riva Ave., North Brunswick, location today at 6:30 p.m. and tomorrow and Wednesday at 10 a.m. Yom Kippur services will also be held on Wednesday and Thursday at the Hilton East Brunswick.