Shofars

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Shofars Guide

Other than the apple dipped in honey, the Shofar is the most well-known symbol of the Jewish New Year. The Shofar is blown in Synagogue during services on Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year Holiday, as well as on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Torah commands Jews in the Book of Numbers to hear the sound produced when the Shofar is blown.

What is a Shofar?

A Shofar is the horn of a ram, sheep or kudu that has been removed, cleaned thoroughly and hollowed out. According to Jewish law, the ram’s horn is most preferable - especially those which have a curve. Antlers, however, may not be used at all because they cannot be hollowed out. The Shofar has a narrow end that serves as a mouth piece and a much wider end that is usually curved to the side. When played like a French horn, the Shofar produces a loud wailing sound.

What Shapes do Shofars come in?

The shape of the Shofar is largely dependent on the animal it comes from and ranges heavily in size. However, all Shofars have a curve or bend to them.

The smallest Shofars measure between 20 and 40 centimeters and typically havea very small bend to them. These Shofars typically come from a ram and are used by the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities. However, there are also ram’s horns that are much larger, measuring between 45 and 50 centimeters. Moroccan Shofars typically only have one small bend and are very small sized, usually between 20 and 30 centimeters.

The largest Shofars are usually 60 centimeters or longer. These Shofars comes from a Kudu and are used by the Yemenite Jewish Community and have two noticeable bends to them.

Decorations

According to Jewish Law, the Shofar that is used in the performance of a Mitzvah may not have any decorations on it. Consequently, the Shofars used during services on Rosh HaShana and at the end of Yom Kippur are undecorated. However, those which are used of decorative purposes and will not be used in the performance of a Mitzvah may be decorated.

Decorative Shofars may have a wide range of themes and designs on them. These Shofars are decorated with silver plates that feature views of Jerusalem, lions, crowns and menorahs. In addition, some Shofars feature decorations of the seven species that are painted on to some sort of cloth background that is then attached to the Shofar. In terms of personalizing a Shofar, it is possible to have a name engraved into the horn or engraved into a silver piece that is in turn attached to the Shofar.

For More Information

For more information on Shofars, Judaica, or synagogue items, feel free to contact our Judaica experts with any questions or concerns.

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