This is a photograph of Avraham Ruben, the owner of a shofar factory in Tel Aviv, with one of the largest shofars ever produced in Israel. Ruben is posing with a long, Yemenite style shofar which is characterised by its twisted shape. Yemenite shofars were traditionally made from the horns of kudu (a type of antelope) but are mostly made from ram’s horns today. A large shofar produces a very deep tone which differs from the higher pitch of other styles of shofar.
The shofar is sounded every morning during the month of Elul, during the Rosh Hashanah services, and at the end of Yom Kippur.
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Shofar – The shofar is a ritual horn blown throughout the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashanah, and at the end of Yom Kippur. According to tradition, the shofar is blown in order to awaken the heart to repentance on the High Holidays. In biblical times, the shofar was blown at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given to Moses, at times of war, to announce holidays and the Jubilee year, and in ceremonies at the Temple. In modern times the shofar is blown on special occasions such as the inauguration of the president of the State of Israel and on Yom Ha’atzmaut. A shofar is made from a horn, typically a ram’s horn, but other animal horns may also be used. According to Jewish law, a shofar cannot be painted with colours but can be carved with artistic designs.
Rosh Hashanah – Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year which takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It is celebrated by blowing the shofar, lighting candles, eating festive meals, and attending services at the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy days which end 10 days later with Yom Kippur. The ten-day period is called the Ten Days of Repentance, because it is believed that during this period a person’s deeds are judged and the future year is decided. It is a both a festive holiday and a solemn time of introspection which includes prayer, asking forgiveness from others, and giving tzedakah (charity). The prayers on Rosh Hashanah include asking God for a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy year. Rosh Hashanah also celebrates the creation of the world. People greet each other on Rosh Hashanah by saying: “Shana Tova (Happy New Year).” Food customs for Rosh Hashanah vary among the different communities but often include round challahs (instead of the customary long loaf), apples and honey, and pomegranates. Many people send Shana Tova cards to their friends and family.