The Shofar is a ritual item central to Judaism and is used primarily during the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
In the modern era, the Shofar is used primarily to fulfill the commandment to blow the Shofar during the month of Elul, in order to remind us that Rosh Hashanah is approaching. The main Shofar blowing is performed during Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur after the Neilah prayer.
The Shofar is crafted from an animal’s horn, except for the horn of oxen, since this horn is not hollow and made from one bone.
“Shofars of Our Land” crafts most of its Shofars from a ram’s horn as well as from antelopes’ horns. A Shofar made from antelopes’ horns is also known as a “Yemenite Shofar”.
The horns which we use to craft Shofars are imported from several countries worldwide, following a rigorous sorting process regarding the quality and nature of the horn in order to craft kosher Shofars.
For the horn to become a kosher Shofar, it must contain no gaps or cracks and must be at least 10 centimeters long.
The process of crafting a Shofar
The horn is constructed from 2 parts:
1. The external part (the bone)
2. The internal cartilage, which is not used.
After removing the horn’s cartilage, the full, narrow part, and the hollow, wider part.
a. Heating. By heating the full part of the horn, it becomes more flexible, making it easier to design its shape to our requirements, through straightening and tightening.
b. Polishing. Following the straightening stage, the horn is smoothed by means of polishing over several stages until the horn becomes smooth to the touch.
c. Designing the mouthpiece. This stage is comprised of heating the edge of the horn and designing the mouthpiece. This process is performed by means of a special cone designed especially for this stage. The final structure of the mouthpiece can be round, oval, narrow, or wide, as needed.
d. Horn drilling. This process is of paramount importance requiring a great deal of care and expertise. The drilling process makes it possible to create a space for air passage and to obtain a sound from the Shofar blowing. The drilling process requires a passage in the bone without damaging its walls, which would invalidate the Shofar.
e. Polishing and glossing. This stage allows for the final design of the Shofar, by which the Shofar is shined through brushing.
Types of Shofars
There are several types of Shofars, and each community has its own traditions regarding its Shofar.
a. Ashkenazi Shofars. Most Shofar blowers use Shofars made in accordance with the Ashkenazi rite, and are crafted from a ram’s horn. In general, these Shofars are processed and completely smooth.
b. Moroccan Shofar: This Shofar is made from a ram’s horn and is in the shape of the letter vav. This Shofar requires a great deal of time on straightening. Its uniqueness derives from its being completely straight, giving it a special sound in addition to its unique shape.
c. Yemenite Shofars. This Shofar is made from a ram’s horn. This horn is not processed at all, except for the construction of the mouthpiece. This requires a horn with a very specific construction, such that very few horns are usable for creating Yemenite Shofars.
d. Yemenite Shofar from antelopes (Kudu). This Shofar is made of Kudu antelopes. The uniqueness of this Shofar is its curly shape. This Shofar can be as long as 1.1 meters. The Shofar is commonly used in the Yemenite and Indian communities.
e. Shofar from Oryx. This Shofar is made from Gemsbuck antelopes. Its uniqueness derives from its being completely straight. This Shofar can be up to 1 meter long.
All of these Shofars can be designed by smoothing the entire horn, or by leaving it either completely or partially in its natural form.