The shofar sounds!

By Carole Stone

The Days of Awe are upon us. At this time, we eagerly anticipate the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn, as part of our traditional worship service. But why? Why a ram’s horn? Why all that teeth-rattling noise?!

There are many reasons why we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Here are some of them:

Rosh Hashana represents the world’s birthday, indeed an exceptional day. Since we believe the world to be created by God, our sovereign and ruler, we treat the celebration of the anniversary of God’s creation with all the pomp and ceremony due at the ruler’s coronation. The shofar summons us to feel humility before God’s majesty and might.

Have you ever heard the blowing of a shofar? Its shrill, brilliant sound is hard to ignore. The purpose of this sound is to stir our consciences. It reminds us to confront our past errors and return to God, who loves us unconditionally, welcomes the penitent, and forgives our averahs—our transgressions.

When Moses received the Torah at Sinai so long ago, all Jews—past, present, and future—were supposedly there as witnesses. This revelation, accompanied by the sounding of a shofar, reminds us to live a Torah life, pursue its study, and practice its commandments.

The sound of the shofar reminds us of the prophets, whose voices rang out like the sound of a shofar to chastise us for our wrongdoings and to call us to serve God, thereby benefiting all humanity. The shofar also recalls the destruction of our temple in Jerusalem. It urges us to work toward Israel’s renewal. 

The shofar reminds us of the ram that Abraham offered as a sacrifice in place of his son Isaac. It thus recalls the heroic faith of our forebearers, who exemplified the highest trust and devotion to God, of which humanity is capable.

The powerful sounds of the shofar are a reminder of the Day of Final Judgment, the ultimate Yom Kippur, when everyone will be called upon to prepare for God’s last judgment of our lives. The shofar foreshadows the end of the world as we know it and the inauguration of God’s reign of righteousness throughout the world, the time of the Coming of the Messiah, a time of acknowledging that God is One and God’s Name One. The shofar foreshadows the time when Israel’s exiled and homeless may return once again to our Holy Land in peace.

Join us at CHESMA—AC/JC3 to worship and listen to the sounds of the shofar. And if you have your own shofar, please bring it! This year Rosh Hashana is observed September 25–27 with a community reservations-only dinner on the 23rd. Yom Kippur is on October 4 and 5. Visit our website at for more information, or call us during business hours at 415 185 9191.

*NGO paid article