Making a shofar


The shofar is a polished horn blown during Jewish ceremonies. When making a shofar it is most important to only use the horn of an acceptable, kosher animal: a ram shofar, a gazelle shofar, an antelope (including the African Kudu) shofar, an oryx shofar, a Jacob’s Sheep Shofar or a goat shofar are all acceptable and kosher .  Tradition forbids making a shofar from cow’s horn, even though a cow is kosher, due to the association of cows with the sin of the golden calf. A ram’s horn shofar is most common when making a shofar, but oryx shofar’s are enjoying growing popularity in the 21st century. Horns can be ordered from a butcher store or bought directly from a slaughterhouse.

When making a shofar the following steps should be followed:

First, boil the horn for 2-5 hours in soapy water, then remove the cartilage with a pick.

Second, Measure the length of the hollow section by inserting a wire or a stick down the hollow. Add approximately 2cm to that measurement. Mark the total measurement (length of hollow + one inch) on the outside of the horn. Then, once the shofar is completely dry, cut or saw off the tip at the above-mentioned mark. Drill at the sawn off end, using a 1/8 of an inch drill, continuing until the drill meets the hollow of the horn.

Next, carve a bell-shaped mouthpiece, similar to that found on a trumpet, at the end of the shofar. Then smooth it using an electric tool. The mouthpiece should be modified to suit the needs of the blower.

The final step in making the shofar, is smoothing the entire inner and outer. Do not shine it, but rather keep it rough and uneven. And some, of course, like it rough and natural, like the natural Yemenite Shofar from the horn of the African Kudu. There should not be any holes in the sides of the shofar, nor should any paint be added to it. Designs can be carved on the outer edge, or on the body of the shofar.

Once the shofar is complete and blown properly, its sound will be unique and will remain with you for a long time.