Tooting Their Own Horns-Starting the New Year Off With a Mitzvah and Giving the Term “Hearing” Shofar a Whole New Meaning!

Beginning at the end of August 2023, The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra once again offered four free classes and free shofars to those who attended, to learn how to blow shofar for our community. While only one class was required to learn how to blow shofar correctly, Rabbi Efraim Horowitz, generously made himself available to teach young and old, on different days and times, so as many boys, bar mitzvah age and up and men, would be able to easily attend.

With useful handouts developed by Rabbi Horowitz, explaining various critical topics such as generating shofar sounds, breathing and blowing techniques, the shofar notes, brachos, and much more, this year alone, over 130 community members learned the correct way to blow shofar empowering them to perform this critical mitzvah for themselves and anyone in need. 

This year the initiative had an even more significant impact on our community when six hearing-impaired members, which ranged from people with mild to profound hearing loss and deaf individuals, requested being able to attend a training session along with a sign language interpreter. Hearing-impaired individuals have always had various challenges in mitzvah observance and obligation in the past but new opportunities for members to participate in performing mitzvos have been presented in the last few years, some beyond the wildest dreams of the hearing-impaired community itself. The questions about who can or can’t blow a shofar, make the brachos, and/or blow for others have been debated by Rabbonim for years. While there are some who say that a deaf person does not have an obligation to hear the shofar, others will differentiate between those who are hard of hearing and whether they can blow for others. Some offer an opinion to blow the shofar straight into the ear of the hearing-impaired person, while others require hearing aids to be removed from their ears. The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra did not provide halachic determinations and these members asked their own Rav. They were extremely grateful for the opportunity and learned and enjoyed the experience immensely.  

Frank Storch, The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra’s Director stated, “It’s truly mind-blowing how far-reaching this little program has come since September 2020 when we began offering classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. I distinctly remember coming close to Rosh Hashana, when the world was still in so much upheaval, minyanim were being held in backyards and shuls were open in very limited capacities. We realized the need for shofar blowers was greater than ever as many immunocompromised individuals, elderly, women, and children were unable or wary of attending shul. Recognizing the need for everyone to be able to safely fulfill the mitzvah of hearing shofar blowing, we were fortunate to find Rabbi Horowitz, with the skills and materials needed. We ordered shofars, arranged for classes, and even arranged for the trainees to blow shofar outdoors throughout the neighborhoods in the community in almost 50 locations! B”h, it was a huge success and we knew it was important to continue with or without a pandemic. Little did we know how it would literally translate to the hearing-impaired community as well.”

The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra are grateful to Rabbi Horowitz, MMT Coleman, Ari Friedman, and JADE (Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education) for facilitating this unique experience. If you, or anyone you know, needs shofar blown for them this Rosh Hashana, please send an email with your name, phone number, and street address to and a request will go out to The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra trainees. 

Photo Credits-Michael Diamond, Mike D. Designs

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