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September 26, 2003 - Image 99

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-26

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Cover Story

Esther Seliason of Oak
Park displays it sht?fitt.
fivin her Bate husband
Marrin:s. collection.

An enduring symbol of the High Holidays, the shofar also has become a collector's item.



n many Jewish households, a
beautiful, polished shofar sits on
display, maybe atop an acrylic
or wooden stand. The ultimate
symbol of the High Holidays, the sho-
far most likely was purchased on a trip
to Israel or perhaps received as a keep-
sake gift for a special simchah.
But in the Oak Park home of Esther
Seligson, shelf after shelf after shelf is
filled with shofrot, collected for more
than 40 years by her late husband,
"He was always looking for a sho-
far," she said. "When we knew some-
one going to Israel, he would ask them
to bring one back. And when we went
ourselves, we always went to shofar
stores and he would pretend he didn't
know anything about them.
"Then he would tell the store owner
he wanted to try one, and they would
expect a couple of little squeaks or a
puff, puff, and they would be so sur-

prised to hear him blast the absolutely
smooth and beautiful sound that came
out of the shofar."
Marvin Seligson began to blow the
shofar in synagogue in Detroit shortly
after his 1949 marriage to Esther.
"He was in the shul choir one year
in the early '50s when the rabbi passed
the shofar around looking for some-
one who could blow it," said Mendel
Seligson of Oak Park, Esther and
Marvin's eldest son. "It was the first
time my father ever blew shofar on
Rosh Hashanah — but not the last.
He blew shofar until 1994, the year he
That last year, Marvin Seligson had
difficulty standing and his at B'nai
Israel-Beth Yehudah in Oak Park told
him it was all right if he sat down.
"But he said he was blowing the
shofar for the whole shul and he
would stand," Esther Seligson said.
"And the sound was so pure, so
magnificently loud," said Mendel
Seligson's wife, Carol. "He could be
heard in the back of the shul."

Marvin Seligson always used the
same shofar on Rosh Hashanah. It was
the one he called "Black Beauty." His
son, Mendel, now owns the favored
shofar and he himself blows it in his
synagogue, B'nai Israel-Beth Yehudah,
on Rosh Hashanah.

A Living Collection

While Esther Seligson is quick to
stress, "the collection is not for sale," it
is hardly unbreakable.
"This is a living collection," Mendel
Seligson said. "It was always a collec-
tion of shofrot coming in and going
out and it was meant to be shared."
No shofrot have been added since
Marvin Seligson's death.
"Each of my children and each of
my 20 grandchildren has at least one
shofar," Esther Seligson said.
The older ones have shofrot given to
them by their grandfather while he
was alive, and those born after he died
were given one from the collection by
SOUNDS on page 100

The Shofar's Call

The shofar is sounded on Rosh
Hashanah for several reasons,
including a call for redemption, a
reminder of the shofar that was
sounded when the Ten Command-
ments were given at Mount Sinai,
a reminder of the ram sacrificed by
Abraham in place of his son Issac,
an announcement of the beginning
of the Ten Days of Repentance a
reminder of the trumpet calls of
our enemies at the time of the
destruction of the Temple and a
call to pray for its rebuilding.
In many synagogues, the shofar
will not be sounded on the first
day of Rosh Hashanah this year
because it falls on Shabbat.
When the shofar is sounded, the
blasts begin and end with tekiab, a
whole note. In between, broken
notes called shevarim and teruah
are sounded.




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