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Meet the most-heard shofar-player in the world - still awakening souls since "The Ten Commandments"

"The Ten Commandments" dubbed Mickey's shofar playing
into the movie's soundtrack

Blares from shofar trumpeters book-end Jews' week of repentance between the High Holidays - Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Cecil B. DeMille recreated Jews' authentic shofar signaling in his epic movie depicting Moses delivering the enslaved Israelites to Mount Sinai where he receives from G-d "The Ten Commandments." 
Cantor Bienenfeld at Kehillat Israel in L.A.

Though Commandments became DeMille's fourth biblical (and most successful) movie production, DeMille had not encountered a live shofar player until his team had the need for one to play the necessary blares for that movie. Around 1955, his Hollywood production staff sought a shofar player from Beverly Hills' Temple Emanuel who recommended a young liturgical singer in their choir, Mickey Bienenfeld who played the shofar for the congregation at holiday prayer services.

Bienenfeld recorded various blares which Mr. DeMille's musical director could apply to various trumpeting actors signaling different things to, for, and about the Jewish liberation from bondage. The Hebrew people hear the call of this horn from Moses to accept the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Aaron and Caleb signal the Jews of Pharoah's army pursuing them into the Red Sea.

For 50-years in synagogue, Mr. Bienenfeld would blow the shofar in liturgical style - i.e., Tekiah, Sh'varim, Teruah, and Tekiah Gedolah. Mr. DeMille's Commandments, however, does not utilize the shofar in a liturgical context! What's in common though is on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the shofar is an alarm that calls on us to examine our deeds and correct our ways, as we return to G‑d.

Mickey Bienenfeld returned to sound the shofar on High Holidays at
The Happy Minyan of Los Angeles  (Photo: Romero Saucedo)


Here, following his Rosh Hashana performance at The Happy (Carlebach) Minyan of Los Angeles, Mickey, now age 96, recounts his experience playing and Hollywood recording shofar sounds for DeMille's dubbing.

Mickey made his living manufacturing glass windows and sliding doors. On the weekends, he eventually became the cantor and shofar player at Kehillat Israel near his and Florence's (o.b.m.) family home in Los Angeles' Pacific Palisades. He served there for 50-years and retains their title of Cantor Emeritus.
Mickey and Florence (o.b.m.) during a trip through Israel's
Negev Desert  (Photo: Joel Bienenfeld)

Mickey and Florence raised 2 sons and a daughter. One son plays the trumpet and the other plays reed-instruments. As is not uncommon between parents's skills and children, neither son has superceded father, Mickey, blowing the shofar in synagogue. 

Mickey will trumpet the shofar ending Neilah at
Happy Minyan this Yom Kippur (Photo: Dan Bienenfeld)
According to Guinness World Records, in terms of theatrical exhibition, The Ten Commandments is the eighth most successful film of all-time. The film has aired annually on U.S. network television in prime time during the Passover/Easter season since 1973. In 2020, the broadcast out-drew all other network TV offerings on its night, sweeping up 5 million viewers. Mickey is likely the most heard, shofar player in the world. The next time you watch the movie, remember that you know who played it- and that you heard him on JooTube! 

Prayer, repentence, and tzedaka lessen the severity of our fate for the new Hebrew year. JooTube's work only continues through the charitable contributions you make through the link in the column on the right.

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