This is a shofar which was made in Germany in the eighteenth century from the collections of the London Jewish Museum of London. The shofar has a Hebrew inscription within a leaf-patterned frame. The English text is from the Book of Psalms and refers to the tradition of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah:
Blow the horn on the new moon, at the beginning of the month for our day of festival; for it is a statute for Israel, a decree of the God of Jacob. (Psalms 81: 4-5)
This shofar was used in the Great Synagogue at Duke’s Place in the City of London.
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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.
The Great Synagogue, London –The Great Synagogue was founded in 1690 and was the first Ashkenazi synagogue in England after the reestablishment of the Jewish community in England in 1656. It was built at Duke’s Place, north of Aldgate in the East End, where many of the Jewish community lived. As the congregation grew, new additions were made to the grand building. The chief rabbi traditionally officiated at this synagogue, and it was the centre of Jewish worship in London. In May 1941, during World War II, the synagogue was destroyed by German bombing.
The Jewish community of England – The first records of a Jewish community in England are from the time of William the Conqueror in 1070. Jewish communities were established in towns such as London, Oxford, Norwich, Lincoln, and Canterbury, with the Jews working mainly in trade and finance. As in many European countries, Jews were under the protection of the King but were also subject to persecution and special taxation. The situation for English Jews deteriorated in the late twelfth century resulting in riots and libels, the most prominent being the massacre of the Jews of York and the blood libel of William of Norwich and Simon of Trent. King Edward I passed the Statute of Jewry in 1275 which placed many restrictions on the Jews, and in 1290 the Jews were expelled from England. In the sixteenth century, Oliver Cromwell stated that the ban on Jewish settlement would no longer be reinforced, and the Jews gradually returned. The situation for Jews in England was now better than elsewhere in Europe, which led to a wave of immigration from countries where Jews were being persecuted such as Spain and Portugal. The Jewish community grew and began to prosper, and in the nineteenth century the Jews received emancipation and were gradually integrated into English society. A number of influential Jews were knighted, such as Moses Montefiore and Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, who became the first practising Jew to sit in the British parliament. Benjamin Disraeli, who was born a Jew but became a practising Anglian, become prime minister in 1868. In the nineteenth century around 150,000 East European Jews arrived in England, causing a split between the assimilated anglicized Jews, many of Sephardi origin, and the poorer, Yiddish-speaking new immigrants. This was also the time when the Zionist movement was gaining momentum, and many British Jews, such as members of the Rothschild family, were involved in supporting Zionist causes and bringing about the Balfour Declaration that stated the British government’s support for a Jewish state. The number of Jews in England increased in the twentieth century with the many refugees arriving from Europe around the years of World War II. Today the community numbers more than 250,000 with most living in the London area.