It's that time of year in New York, when coats come out of closets, leaves turn colors -- and the sound of the ram’s horn echoes through Central Park.
On Sept. 29, the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rabbi Yisrael Kugel of Chabad Centers of Manhattan will perform the ritual Rosh Hashannah shofar blowing at the Central Park bandshell. He sees the Biblical instrument as an outreach vehicle uniquely tuned to the ears of the unaffiliated and the disinterested.
I never remember the names of the patients into whose rooms I step to blow the shofar every Rosh HaShanah in Lutheran Medical Center, an unpretentious hospital in Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s working-class neighborhood that borders on the Gowanus Canal. I routinely introduce myself to the patient, the surrounding kin or friends, the attending physicians or nurses, the infirm in the next bed; I simply say I am here to blow the shofar for the New Year, ask if they would like to hear it, quickly put the ram’s horn to my lips.