Religion: The Sound of the Shofar

It was Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year—by Jewish reckoning the 5,732nd since the creation of the world—and the congregation had been crowding into Manhattan's new Lincoln Square Synagogue since shortly after sunrise. Now Rabbi Steven Riskin and the cantor huddled together. "Tekiah," intoned the rabbi softly, using the Hebrew command for a long blast on the shofar. The cantor tensed his cheeks and raised the ram's horn to sound the melancholy note, the first of a hundred blasts that began the High Holy Days.

At 31, Rabbi Riskin is something of...

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