The Shofar is a musical instrument made of a ram’s horn. Once the horn arrives at the factory, it undergoes a process of sanitation and disinfection so it can be a kosher Shofar. Ensuring the Shofar’s lawfulness is an exacting task; many Shofars are disqualified because the horns are fractured or too damaged. The Shofar is a Synagogue Item we hear during the service every year on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, then, is sure to be fracture and hole-free. Other synagogue items important for honoring holidays like Rosh Hashanah include Tallitot and Kittels.
While most people do not know how to properly blow the Shofar in order to make the desired, breathtaking sound, it is still an item that is commonly found in Judaica stores.The Shofar, like many other articles in Judaism, varies according to custom and tradition: Iraqi and Iranian Jews often use the Bavli Shofar, which usually has a naturally incomplete finish and produces a very deep sound; Moroccans and Germans traditionally use the flat ram’s horn Shofar; Yemenites use their own Yemenite Shofar, which is more like a convoluted straight line; and the most popular and commonly-used one is the hoof-shaped classic twisted Shofar.
The Shofar can be as long as you want it to be, as long as it is kosher. Synagogues usually use medium size Shofars, as it is a combination of a strong sound and convenient size. Since the Shofar has to be made of a kosher animal’s horn, and kosher large-horned animals are rare, such Shofars tend to be very expensive. For people who are travelling or want a Shofar for the living room as an accessory, a small, “baby Shofar” is perfect.
At Judaica stores, you can find Shofars that are purely decorative and perfect for the holidays and these can be on the pricey side. For example, you can purchase a beautiful Sterling silver medium size Shofar for approximately $800. Another item often seen is a medium size leather-covered Shofar, which can cost you roughly $300. Of course, these Shofars are just a drop in the bucket, and prices differ greatly based on size, material, and more, even when you are dealing with non-decorative Shofars. For example, a Yemenite 46-48in long Shofar may cost you $140, whereas another Yemenite Shofar of a slightly larger size, approximately 50in, can easily cost you close to $300.
If you are looking to purchase a Shofar as a gift since they make for very apposite Rosh Hashanah gifts, and especially if you’re looking for a decorative Shofar, your purchase will not be complete unless you get a matching Shofar stand or bag. The perfect way to showcase a gorgeous silver Shofar is to place it in a silver or glass stand. The stand will make the Shofar that much more conspicuous in any room you decide to put it in. If you’re not looking to put the Shofar on display, a beautiful embroidered velvet bag will keep the Shofar intact. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding Shofar designs or prices.
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 centimetres 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 centimetres. Moroccan Shofars typically only have one small bend and are very small sized, usually between 20 and 30 centimetres.
The largest Shofars are usually 60 centimetres or longer. These Shofars comes from a Kudu and are used by the Yemenite Jewish Community and have two noticeable bends to them.
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.