Jewish people all over the world recognize the sounds of the shofar, a ram’s horn that is blown on certain holidays. When not in use, the shofar can be a beautiful display piece, either on its own, or as part of a collection of Judaica. While purchasing a shofar is easy, getting what you want requires a bit of knowledge, all clearly presented below in this shofar buying guide.
We had a shofar on the mantel growing up. It was a wedding gift to my parents, and something they always treasured. We know others that gifted a shofar on Rosh Hoshana, although it’s not typically a gift-giving holiday.
Polished and lovely, ours stands on an acrylic base. It is smaller than one of the shofars blown at the temple. but larger than the other. It got me thinking about what I want to know before buying my own shofar.
Shofar buying guide details
It’s a trumpet-like instrument usually made from a ram’s horn, and used in certain Jewish religious ceremonies.
Only a kosher shofar should be used during the High Holy Days. Amongst many of the rules, a kosher shofar cannot have cracks or holes, even if patched, that have gone through both the outer and inner layers, thus affecting the sound quality. Kosher shofars will be labeled “Hechsher.”
While most shofars are made from a ram’s horn, the horns of other kosher animals can also be used.
Like many items used in religious ceremonies, there is a rigid process for making a shofar. From the sorting to the prepping, you can read about it all here.
This is a personal question without an answer. What a buyer needs to know is that the shofar is measured along the curve, not from end to end.
The horn can either be polished to a shine, or left natural. Typically, when a shofar has both, the bottom is polished, leading up to a natural top.
Many of the shofars below are made in Israel, and delivered worldwide.
Blowing the shofar is a skill. It’s not easy and it takes practice. The trick is to tense up your lips and vibrate them against the shofar. Longer shofars tend to have larger mouthpieces; therefore, are easier to play as there is more space for the air to vibrate.
The four sounds of the shofar used during the High Holy Days can be heard here, along with some interesting history. When shopping, keep in mind that a larger shofar will tend to have a deeper sound than a smaller one.
Shofar buying guide
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Classic short curved ram or goat's horn shofar
A short, curved ram or goat's horn is the traditional preference amongst mainstream Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
Long spiral kudu horn shofar
The traditional Yemenite shofar is an impressive large spiraled horn from a kudu, an antelope of southern and western Africa.
While classic shofars have remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years, decorative shofars have emerged in modern times. Many talented artists have created stunning shofars to represent the Jewish faith. While these are attractive on a shelf and make great gifts, many rabbis do not recommend their use during the High Holy Days.
If you are planning to display your shofar, you might want to add a stand to your purchase.
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