A dozen or so children watched intensely Tuesday as Rabbis Levi Hodokav and Yankel Adler sawed the end of a ram's horn, then drilled a hole to allow sound to pass through it.
It was all part of a "Shofar Factory" demonstration at Young Israel-Chabad of Pinellas. Each child received his own shofar to sand, shellac and take home after enjoying a lunch of macaroni and cheese and fresh vegetables.
It's actually a mitzvah, or commandment, for Jews to hear the shofar during the two days of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which falls on Sept. 9-10.
It's a wake-up call of sorts to prepare spiritually, Rabbi Hodokav said.
"We've got to get ourselves in order," he said.
The three different shofar sounds used during the holiday are "like a child crying out to his father" asking for a good year and that everyone should be healthy, said Rabbi Shalom Adler, the synagogue's head rabbi and father of Rabbi Yankel Adler, who recently moved here from New York.
"When I blow the shofar … it's pretty hard," said Zalman Gozenpud, 6, of Palm Harbor.
Rabbi Shalom Adler taught the children some shofar blowing tricks, including blowing from the right side of the mouth. There's an angel who wants to tell Hashem (God) all the bad things we've done, and he sits on your right shoulder, so we blow him away, he said.
Haley and Marley Bellack of Clearwater were all smiles as they spoke about their Rosh Hashana experiences.
"She likes the shofar because she likes to make noise," Haley, 9, said of her 6-year-old sister.
The shofar is possibly the oldest wind instrument. The first time the Jews heard the shofar was at Mount Sinai thousands of years ago, said Rabbi Adler. Hearing the shofar, "reminds us of the Torah and the mitzvahs that Hashem wants us to do." Rosh Hashana, he told the children, is a time to learn more, pray more and give more to charity.