A unique and ancient Jewish tradition, blowing into the hollowed horn of a kosher animal on Rosh Hashanah symbolises a wake-up call.
As explained by the MyJewishLearning.com article, “Shofar: Blowing the Ram’s Horn on the High Holidays,” the shofar blast is “a reminder for us to look inward and repent for the sins of the past year.” In addition to being an important traditional symbol, the shofar also represents an interesting, hands-on opportunity for children to connect with the High Holy days.
Sounds of the Shofar
Though shofars come in a variety of shapes and sizes (each making unique sounds), there is a traditional set of blasts made during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Jewish parenting website Kveller.com does a good job of listing and describing each one in its article, “Shofar Sounds.”
Teach your family the names for each shofar sounds, and see whether they can identify them:
- Tekiah—One long, unbroken sound;
- Shevarim—Three medium-length broken sounds;
- Teruah—Series of nine staccato sounds;
- Tekiah Gedolah—One long, unbroken blast held as long as possible with a louder ending.
Making a Shofar Craft
Traditionally, the shofar is “a horn of a kosher animal with the marrow removed,” according to Chabad.org and its article, “Call to Action.”
Children can connect with the High Holy days by making a creative, fun replica of the shofar using everyday materials. Below are just a few ideas:
- Toilet Paper Roll Shofar
Alpha Mom writer Cindy Hopper makes it easy for children to participate in the blowing of the shofar.
- Construction Paper Shofar
The blog Joyful Jewish offers an easy party favour conversion for kids to use during the High Holy days.
- Yarn and Paper Shofar
Jennifer's Adventures in MamaLand presents step-by-step instructions for a relatively easy craft that is “on the heavy-supervision side.”
Shofar in Books
Reading books together as a family is one of the best ways to spark Jewish conversations in the home. In preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, considering reading one of the books below—each one features the shofar!
Happy Birthday, World
By Latifa Berry Kropf
With simple text, this book explains symbols and customs of Rosh Hashanah by comparing a child's birthday celebration with the rituals of the Jewish New Year. A birthday cake and honey-dipped apples or a shofar and party horns are just two of the comparisons.
It's Shofar Time!
By Latifa Berry Kropf
Hearing the shofar is an exciting experience for children. After beginning with this important holiday tradition, the author then introduces dipping apples in honey, making greeting cards and baking round challah.
The Secret Shofar of Barcelona
By Jacqueline Dembar Green
In this story set in Spain in the 1500s, the son of a conductor blows the shofar in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, a practice he must keep secret.
August 17, 2017