“The call of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminds us of the primordial scream, the eternal voiceless call of the soul expressing its desire to return to its Creator.”
This week, we have stories about shofars for Rosh Hashanah. Associate Editor Rachel Sweet focuses on how does one blow a shofar? Not an easy or intuitive task, to be sure. Rabbi Louis Finkelman explores how does one become a shofar blower? It’s a bit different than deciding to play the tuba in the school band.
There are many stories and parables regarding the meaning of blowing the shofar. Rabbi Finkleman related an interesting quote to me, that has been attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (1690-1700): “The call of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminds us of the primordial scream, the eternal voiceless call of the soul expressing its desire to return to its Creator.”
I decided for Rosh Hashanah, I should explore “shofars” in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. I found that shofars are mentioned on 2,423 pages.
Both the JN as well as the Detroit Jewish Chronicle published hundreds of articles and images of shofars. Moreover, “shofar” appears on 67 front pages. In the past, as well as in this issue of the JN, readers could learn where and how to make shofars, how to make them sound the noble blast and what it symbolizes.
The earliest article appeared in the 5680 Rosh Hashanah (or as it was spelled then, “Hashonah”) issue of the Chronicle (Sept. 19, 1919). “The Call of the Shofar” was penned by Rabbi Judah L. Levin of the United Jewish Orthodox Community of Detroit.
Beyond the symbolism of the shofar — a topic for many stories — shofars are discussed in a wide range of articles. Take podiatrist Marc Lindy. His hobby, after a tough day in the office, was making beautiful shofars (Oct. 3, 1986, JN). For further inspiration, read “Jerrod Blows the Shofar,” a neat short story by 7-year-old Lowell Stearn (Sept. 18, 1986).
The image on the front pages of the JN are superb. One especially poignant cover graced the Sept. 22, 1944, issue. With a Hebrew label, the image is of Jewish soldiers in the British Army blowing the shofar in Jerusalem amid WWII. This front page also notes that the British War Office finally decided to form a Jewish Brigade, as it did during the first World War (the famous Jewish Legion).
The front page of the Sept. 26, 2003, JN features a great photograph of Michael Eber, 17, and Zachary Friedman, 14, from West Bloomfield. The “shofarists” are pictured blowing their horns at Temple Shir Shalom.
The original cover art for the Sept. 21, 1990, issue is my personal favorite. This art from Giora Carmi features a beautiful array of colors emerging from the shofar against a blue background for Rosh Hashanah 5751.
If you’d like to showcase your shofar skill, enter the JN’s Shofar Blowing Competition. Can you beat Alan Posner, director of Bands of Bloomfield Hills Public Schools? Send us a video introducing yourself and showing how long you can blow the shofar. Two winners, one over 16 and one under, will win fun prizes that will be awarded after the holiday.
Send a video that introduces yourself and showcases your shofar skill by Sept. 23 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.