Types of Shofars

What is a Shofar?

The Shofar is a horn used on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). The Shofar is blown during prayers and the weeping, groaning sound of the Shofar is meant to move the congregants as they realize that they should be the ones weeping and groaning before G-d due to their misdeeds for the past year. Rosh Hashanah is considered the time when G-d judges every creature on earth and according to their deeds from the past year, their fate is decided regarding the coming year.

What kinds of Shofars are there?

The Shofar can be bought easily nowadays whether in stores or online. When looking in to buying a Shofar one is struck by the choice one is faced with. There are short Shofars, long Shofars, curly Shofars, straight Shofars and curved Shofars. There are black Shofars, brown Shofars, beige Shofars and any combination of these colors. We would like to explain a little about the different types of Shofars on the market.

  • The classic ram horn Shofars are by far the most common Shofars. It is used by both Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities and I made from the horn of a domestic ram. Most ram horn Shofars are light in color though black ones are available from black rams.
  • There are also flat ram horn Shofars  that are typically used by Moroccan and German Jews. It is related that these were used due to persecution in the past when the Jews would need to hide the Shofar under their clothing. The shape of the flat ram horn Shofar is simple with an upturned end.
  • Bavli Shofars are natural, unfinished ram's horns with a very deep sound and are typically used by Iraqi and Iranian Jews.
  • Yemenite Shofars are made from the horn of a kudu antelope and are therefore very long and typically of spiral shape.

Anything else I should know before buying a Shofar?

Apart from how much the Shofar appeals to you on an aesthetic level, it is important to keep in mind the importance of the size of the Shofar. First of all, you should know that the size does not affect how Kosher the Shofar is. A Shofar bought from a reliable source will be Kosher in any event.

For people on the go, travelling, blowing the Shofar for others in a variety of places, a smaller Shofar is probably the best choice. For synagogue use, a larger, deeper-sounding Shofar or medium-sized Shofar is more popular. Very small or very large Shofars are usually more difficult to blow.