Musician-songwriter Phillip Namanworth has performed on Broadway, in concerts, in nightclubs.
During these weeks before Rosh HaShanah, he does a gig each morning for an audience of two — himself and God. During the month of Elul, which precedes the holiday-laden month of Tishri, he blows the shofar every weekday morning in his Manhattan apartment.
In many Jewish communities, shofar blasts come before the Days of Repentance, as a spiritual wake-up call.
Last week Namanworth tried out another horn.
At J. Levine Books & Judaica in Midtown, where he attends Mincha services every afternoon, he tried to coax a sound out of a few shofars— including a giant Yemenite one— watched by owner Danny Levine, center, and sales manager Shawn Levine.
Namanworth, a student and teacher at Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s Meaningful Life Center, also inspected some yom tov gifts like honey dishes, left, and the selection of High Holy Days books.
“I always check new books. I don’t just come in and daven,” he says.
Despite the ongoing recession, pre-holiday sales remain robust, says Danny Levine. This year’s top-sellers: Jewish calendars, Jewish-themed Silly Bandz for teens, Rabbi Jacobson’s “60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays,” and the Conservative movement’s new “Lev Shalem” High Holy Days machzor. “That’s the hottest machzor this year,” Levine says.
Namanworth, who has composed music for television, movies and a rock ballet, is now working on a play called “The Journey of The Baal Shem Tov,” about the founder of the chasidic movement.
This month, he says, he’s looking ahead to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. He can sense the approaching holiday, he says. “I feel it everywhere.” Elul, he says, is “a transient time.”