Shofar: Do It Yourself

A bit about the horn...

The Shofar is the ritual horn blown on the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. There is something truly special about blowing one's own shofar that one prepared so we are going to provide some outlines on how you can make your own shofar.

The shofar can be made from the horn of any kosher animal apart from a bull. A Kosher animal is defined by the fact it has split hooves and chews it's cud. The reason we can't use the horn of a bull is that we do not wish to "remind" G-d of our sin of the Golden Calf. The horns of permissible animals are not solid bone but have cartilage inside. The most common kind of shofar in the Ashkenazi world is the ram's horn. Such a horn can be obtained from slaughterhouses.

Follow the following steps in order to create your own Shofar...

  1. The shofar needs to be boiled in water for between two and five hours. It is advisable to add a little washing soda as this can help with later cleaning. The cartilage can then be removed using a pick. In the case of small horns, the removal of the cartilage can be as quick as half an hour.
  2. Use a soft wire to check how far the hollow inside the horn extends. Make a mark on the outside of the Shofar about one inch further along than where the hollow ends. Cut off the tip with a saw or hacksaw. It is important to make sure that the horn is completely dry before cutting it.
  3. Drill into the sawed-off end a hole of 1/8 inch using an electric drill until the bit reaches the hollow of the horn.
  4. Use the various bits from an electric modeling set to carve a bell-shaped mouthpiece at the end of the shofar, similar to that which a trumpet has. The edge of the mouthpiece can be smoothed using the electric model tool. The mouthpiece should be modified according to the personal needs of the person blowing it.
  5. Get an experienced Shofar-blower to test out the Shofar.
  6. It is also advisable to get a Rabbi or someone who has a thorough knowledge of the laws of shofars to check that the shofar is kosher and whether it can be used on Rosh Hashanah. There must be no holes on the sides of the shofar and no paint or metal coatings added to the outside of the shofar.