Shofar, So Good!

Talk about starting the New Year off with a blast! Attempting to gain entry into Guinness World Records for the largest amount of people in a shofar ensemble, Shaare Shamayim-Beth Judah-Beth Tefilath Israel-Rodeph Zedek Hebrew-school students and faculty hosted its first "Great Shofar Blow-Out" just days before Rosh Hashanah.

According to Jacques Lurie, executive and educational director at the Traditional synagogue, exactly 400 people filed into Gratz College Sept. 25 to break the Robert Lappin Foundation's record of 386 simultaneous shofar-blowers.

The Lappin Foundation, which runs programs dedicated to reversing the trend of intermarriage and assimilation, actually challenged the synagogue to the feat, and even supplied the first 200 shofars. The remaining 200 were sold at the door for $10 a piece.

Before the horn tooting, Rabbi Barry Rosen offered a brief history of the holiday and the importance of the shofar. Then, Walter Korn, a congregant, called out the different traditional shofar sounds to an auditorium filled with students from Gratz College, Hebrew-school students from the synagogue and some of their parents, 10th-graders from Beth Shalom Congregation in Elkins Park, and even a busload of seniors from the Shalom Arbor House in Philadelphia.

The blasts – typically sounded throughout the day on Rosh Hashanah – lasted for 71?2 minutes at Gratz.

To break the record, Lurie said, the synagogue had to provide documentation to Guinness in London, including a sign-in sheet and pictures of the event.

State Rep. Dennis O'Brien (R-District 169) and Robin Schatz, director of government affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, acted as independent observers.

This is not the first time the shul has attempted to become record-setters. Three years ago, congregants baked the world's largest Purim hamantashen, which measured 20 feet on each side. (Since Guinness rules require a baked good to utilize "traditional ingredients," the monstrous dessert contained multiple fillings.)

"We're ecstatic about this!" exclaimed Lurie. "Not only is it fun and exciting to make the record, but it's another example of making Hebrew school an exciting and interesting place to be."



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