Rabbi talks 9/11, Rosh Hashana and rams' horns at MU's Jewish center

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | 9:47 p.m. CDT; updated 8:33 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Rabbi Avremi Lapine spoke at Hillel, the Jewish Campus Center at MU, about the Jewish new year and the triumph of the human character. On Rosh Hashana, the rabbi blows the shofar to mimic the cry of a child in the hopes that God will show his people compassion and give them blessings in the new year.

COLUMBIA — When Rabbi Avremi Lapine thinks of Sept. 11, he thinks of the Old Testament. 

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Lapine said. Even though it was against his nature, Abraham was willing to do it, but God allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. So a ram's horn, or shofar, is now used in celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.


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A challenge like that brings out someone's true character, Lapine said. 

That's what happened on Sept. 11, Lapine said. He was in New York City on that day. 

"People were offering their neighbors things. It brought out the best in New Yorkers," Lapine told nine members of Columbia's Jewish community Tuesday night at MU's Hillel Jewish Campus Center, before leading them in making a shofar. 

Rosh Hashana takes place this year from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18. On Rosh Hashana, the Rabbi blows the shofar to mimic the cry of a child in the hopes that God will show his people compassion and give them blessings in the new year, Lapine said. 

After he explained the history, Lapine gave Cathy Lucia and Jeremy Hershey-Nexon a ram's horn and a small hand saw. While Lucia held the horn steady on the edge of a table, Hershey-Nexon worked to saw off the horn's tip to make an opening through which to blow. A thin film of dust collected on the linoleum below. 

Five minutes into the task, Hershey-Nexon gave Lucia a turn with the saw. After a few pulls, the horn's severed tip fell to the floor. Lapine plugged in an electric saw to drill the mouthpiece. Then he buffed around its edge. 

"This is a really smelly one," he said, before offering the horn to the participants to blow. Lucia took the horn that she'd sawed minutes earlier and held it to her mouth. She took a deep breath and blew. The horn emitted a sound like an amped-up kazoo.

"It tastes terrible," she said.

Supervising editor is Jacob Kirn.

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