By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
All was calm and quiet on Maple Avenue in Red Bank Saturday night until about 8:15p, when visitors wielding giant rams’ horns started filing into Congregation Beth Shalom.
That’s when a half-dozen children and adults started wailing into the horns, creating a cacophony of deep, hollow blasts and high-pitched squeals, warming up for the annual shofar-blowing contest ahead.
In the end, 10-year-old Zak Dasaro outlasted his peers and Beth Shalom President Israel Mayk, clocking in at 21 seconds for longest toot of the night. Zak later played “Taps” and won the contest for most original blow. But he had stiff competition.
Fellow 10-year-old Evan Leifman cranked out the “Jeopardy” theme on his shofar and Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro made a bid to win when he got the crowd involved for a shofar-style rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
Shapiro went on to win the category for most traditional blow, but the competitors clearly didn’t stand much of a chance, considering whom they were up against. Shapiro didn’t mind rubbing it in a little, either.
“I won! I won!” he yelled, jumping up and down. “I’d like to thank my mom, God…”
Once the contest was over, Shapiro reminded everyone why he started it two years ago when he took over the congregation: to add in a little fun between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
“We have this time of year and people dread it,” Shapiro said. “Sometimes it’s good to be serious. We should never get so serious that it’s no exciting and fun for us.”
According to Evan, who participated in the tradition for his first time on Saturday, Shapiro met that goal. He says he’ll be back to compete again next year.
“Definitely,” he said.