Back in 2005, I covered a shofar blowing contest in Manhattan’s Herald Square Park.
As I remember it, it was a nice fall day in the city. And it was a truly interesting and fun event — listening to a bunch of people blow the heck out of their shofars (that ram’s horn used in synagogue during the High Holy Days).
One of the judges that day was one Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s pal and band director. It turned out that Shaffer was Jewish and a member of the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation, the only Orthodox shul in northern Westchester.
I chatted with him a bit and he was very nice. “I can’t resist the sound of the shofar, haven’t been able to since I was a kid,” he told me. “It wakes you up and stirs your soul, if done properly, and it always has.”
The picture shows Shaffer with Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenbaum of Manhattan.
In his new book, “We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-Biz Saga,” Shaffer writes about Bob Dylan needing to leave a rehearsal for Letterman’s 10th anniversary show in 2003 because he would not perform during the Jewish Sabbath.
“His long and winding spiritual road had led him back to Orthodox Judaism,” Shaffer wrote. “He refused to play on the Sabbath.”
He went on: “Over time, I’ve lost track of Dylan’s movements in the spiritual continuum. I myself have remained consistent. I’m Jewish, I’m happy. I love the tradition. Like my favorite ballplayer, Sandy Koufax, I don’t play on Yom Kippur, the holiest time of the Jewish year, the sacred Day of Atonement.”
I mention Paul Shaffer not to drop names, but because he’s doing a fundraiser for the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation this Saturday night (Feb. 6) at the White Plains Performing Arts Center. And he’s bringing along his (non-Jewish) buddy, Martin Short.
The show is to benefit the synagogue’s educational programs and community outreach.
In 2008, I wrote about the Orthodox Union choosing three synagogues, including Mount Kisco, to work on “outreach” to unaffiliated Jews.
It must help to have Paul Shaffer on your team (conducting, no less!).