Stu­dent found not guilty

Jewish chil­dren learn to cre­ate a key el­e­ment of the High Holy Days Craw­ford ac­quit­ted in the stab­bing death of Re­nais­sance class­mate

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drea K. McDaniels

A jury found 18-year-old Donte Craw­ford not guilty Fri­day of first-de­gree mur­der in the stab­bing death last year of 17-year-old class­mate Ana­nias Jol­ley at Bal­ti­more Re­nais­sance Academy.

It took ju­rors less than three hours of de­lib­er­a­tions to ac­quit Craw­ford of all charges. Pros­e­cu­tors had used school video sur­veil­lance of Craw­ford pacing in front of a class­room at the pub­lic high school on the day of the at­tack last Novem­ber to try to con­vince the jury that he was ly­ing in wait for Jol­ley.

De­fense at­tor­neys ar­gued that Craw­ford felt bul­lied and afraid of Jol­ley, and did not in­tend to kill him. They de­scribed their con­fronta­tion as a scuf­fle that ac­ci­den­tally turned deadly.

Craw­ford was charged with first-de­gree mur­der and pos­ses­sion of a deadly weapon with in­tent to harm. Ju­rors ac­quit­ted him of those charges, and also of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter. They were al­lowed to consider those charges af­ter Craw­ford tes­ti­fied Fri­day that he acted in self-de­fense.

Jol­ley’s fam­ily — in­clud­ing his mother, Craw­ford

ef­fec­tive if you learn how to use it.

Neal Ein­si­d­ler’s four sons — who are now grown — all took part in the ac­tiv­ity as chil­dren.

“Most of the time, the sho­far ex­pe­ri­ence for the young kids amounts to hear­ing this funny horn get blown on Rosh Hashana, or read­ing about it in books,” the West Friend­ship man says. “With Rabbi Baron, they get their hands into the process.

“Nearly all the He­brew schools in the area take a field trip there to see how it’s done. Rabbi Baron is an in­sti­tu­tion around here.”

For mil­len­ni­ums, the sho­far has been cen­tral to the cel­e­bra­tion of Rosh Hashana, the two-day hol­i­day that turns the Jewish cal­en­dar and opens the High Holy Days, the 10-day pe­riod of prayer and re­pen­tance.

The He­brew name for Rosh Hashana is Yom Teruah — lit­er­ally, the Day of Shout­ing or Day of Blast­ing. Jews blow the sho­far four times dur­ing ser­vices on the hol­i­day.

They blast it again 10 days later on Yom Kip­pur — the Day of Atone­ment — at the end of the High Holy Days.

The He­brew Bi­ble men­tions the sho­far more than 70 times. In the Book of Ex­o­dus, sho­far blasts are heard on Mount Si­nai as God gives Moses the Ten Com­mand­ments.

The cen­tral or com­mand­ment, of Rosh Hashana is to hear the sho­far’s blast, and its use on Yom Kip­pur traces back to an an­cient tra­di­tion: the in­stru­ment was played that day ev­ery 50 years to an­nounce the Ju­bilee Year, when Jews were granted for­give­ness of their debts.

Baron, 54, the direc­tor of the Lubav­itch Cen­ter, has no se­ri­ous ob­jec­tion to the newer trends that have evolved around sho­fars.

Synagogues can or­der the in­stru­ments from man­u­fac­tur­ers around the globe, pay­ing any­where from $35 for a curly 20-inch ram’s horn to $500 or more for the heav­ily lac­quered 4-foot horn of an African kudu, or an­te­lope.

They’re all kosher — sho­fars may be fash­ioned from the horn of any cud­chew­ing an­i­mal with cloven hooves — and Baron says he ap­pre­ci­ates any rites or items that at­tract fol­low­ers. But he has al­ways seen spe­cial value in teach­ing tra­di­tion and its mean­ing.

“It’s like buy­ing a chicken at the su­per­mar­ket,” he says. “You can get a cleaned-up version of a chicken, or you can get it in a form that lets you know what you’re re­ally eat­ing. That’s what I like to do with the Sho­far Fac­tory.”

It takes time to make a sho­far from scratch — and the maker must have a strong con­sti­tu­tion.

Baron starts his an­nual cy­cle in the sum­mer, when he and an­other rabbi visit one or two Penn­syl­va­nia farms that sup­ply the sheep and goats whose horns he’ll turn into half-com­pleted sho­fars.

The farm­ers raise the an­i­mals for their wool and meat, Baron says.

Be­yond a cer­tain age, they be­come less Rabbi Hillel Baron and Macken­zie Ryan saw the tip of a horn for a sho­far. Baron buys his sup­ply of horns in the sum­mer from farms in Penn­syl­va­nia. He then soaks the horns to loosen the bone that ad­heres to the outer layer, which will be­come the sho­far. Adam Stull of Glen­wood feeds a goat at Gan Is­rael He­brew school. The goats were at the work­shop to show the chil­dren what sort of an­i­mal pro­duces an even­tual sho­far. sal­able. The farm­ers then har­vest the horns for sho­fars and the meat for niche mar­kets. The rabbi picks the parts up, and the less-pleas­ant part of his mis­sion be­gins.

As Baron told the chil­dren at a work­shop this week, the horns we see on goats or rams aren’t ac­tu­ally hol­low. What we see are the lay­ers of hard ker­atin — the ma­te­rial in hair, hooves, claws and fin­ger­nails — that en­wrap a bone of the same shape.

Much of sho­far-mak­ing con­sists of sep­a­rat­ing that outer layer from the bone. Baron does it by toss­ing the items in a tub of bleach and water, where they sit for sev­eral months. This al­lows the bleach to break down the tis­sue that con­nects the bone and ker­atin.

He stores the vats on the prop­erty far away from the school­house.

“I can’t keep them any closer than this; the smell is too just strong,” he says, and lifts a lid to peer in at the few horns that re­main in the so­lu­tion.

Af­ter clean­ing and dry­ing the items — bones still in­side the shells, but no longer at­tached — he has hun­dreds of sho­fars-inthe-mak­ing to use and dis­trib­ute at his work­shops.

The chil­dren at the Lubav­itch Cen­ter, ages 4 to 14, knew lit­tle of this as they spilled out of the school­house at 10 a.m. last Sun­day, cheer­ful on a sun-drenched morn­ing.

They flocked to an an­i­mal trailer. In­side, a mother goat nuzzled its daugh­ter.

“Are you go­ing to cut their horns off?” one child asked.

“No, we only use the horns of an­i­mals that are no longer alive,” Baron says. He turned to an adult. “At least they see sho­fars don’t grow on trees, and they aren’t made in China,” he whis­pered.

Baron led the chil­dren to his stag­ing area: five pic­nic ta­bles in the shade of a tree.

The deer’s head be­came a prop for dis­cussing horns. The goat hoof on a ta­ble was cloven, which the kids agreed qual­i­fied it as kosher.

Baron picked up one of his pre­pared horns and tapped it.

“‘Sho­far’ in He­brew means ‘hol­low,’” he said. “The antlers of a deer are not hol­low. Same with the horns of a bull. They can’t be sho­fars.”

He asked for vol­un­teers to pull the bones from one horn, and two stepped for­ward to do the job with pli­ers.

He then placed the horn in a vise, held up a saw and asked for an­other vol­un­teer — Macken­zie — to help him cut off the tip to open a hole for blow­ing.

Macken­zie grabbed one end, Baron the other, and they sawed un­til the tip fell off.

Each child then lined up to choose their horn, per­formed the same steps, and brushed, cleaned and oiled their in­stru­ment.

Few had prac­ticed the lib-vi­brat­ing tech­nique re­quired to blow the sho­far prop­erly.

They cer­tainly don’t know the elab­o­rate ar­ray of blow­ing styles passed along in the Jewish oral tra­di­tion.

Their first at­tempts sounded a bit like a band of ka­zoos.

By the end of the ses­sion, though, each held a small yet au­then­tic sho­far that any

or sho­far blaster, could blow for the High Holy Days.

Some call Baron’s work­shops — he also teaches tra­di­tional matzo-mak­ing for Passover and how to squeeze olive oil to use in meno­rahs on Hanukkah — a bless­ing.

“If he ever stopped do­ing it, I don’t know how he’d be re­placed,” said Robert Hor­witz, an El­li­cott City man who learned to blow the sho­far from the rabbi. “It per­pet­u­ates what’s im­por­tant. Maybe these kids will be­come in­clined and pass it along, too.”

For Baron, it’s enough to know that the work­shops ex­pose the kids to what is most im­por­tant, and most poignant, about this time of year.

“Dur­ing the High Hol­i­days, we are re­minded that no mat­ter how far we’ve strayed, we can al­ways cry out to God, even if we don’t have the right words to do it,” he says. “And God al­ways lis­tens.

“In a very real sense, we’re like his sheep.”

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

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