Hearing the shofar in the month of Elul, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is a poignant call for teshuva and self-reflection for any Jew. But how many of us have had the experience of creating a shofar from start to finish or the zechut of learning the proper way to use it? Every year, our sixth grade students take a morning out of their classroom study in the month of Elul to work with Rabbi Michael Albukerk of the Shofar Factory. In this workshop, students select a ram’s horn which they then measure, cut, saw, drill, sand and polish to create a kosher shofar. Rabbi Albukerk’s workshop takes us around the world finding animals in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America that are kosher for shofarot. Students learn about teshuva and the centrality of the shofar’s sound and shape in calling us to self reflect. Rabbi Albukerk, as well as some of our own talented baalei tokeot, demonstrated and taught the proper way to blow a shofar. Finally, our students selected their own ram’s horns which they then measured, cut, sawed, drilled, sanded and polished to create kosher, working shofarot.
However, as Rabbi Albukerk explains, there is much more to this workshop than learning about, and creating a shofar:
“The shofar factory is a workshop that gives kids a sense of leadership because being the Baal Tokea is a position of responsibility and leadership to the community. By blowing the shofar, the Baal Tokea is allowing people to fulfill a mitzvah of the Torah. It is a big zechus, merit, to be the Baal Tokea. So the Shofar Factory is not just about blowing the shofar, but also about teaching the value of taking initiative and taking a lead. Their role is significant in leading the community. We hope that every student who sees this presentation will learn how to blow the shofar appropriately so they can help people fulfill the mitzvah of hearing and blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and the days preceding. It’s not just about showing, it’s about handing over the responsibility to the next generation.”
To learn more about the shofar factory and other workshops, please visit Jewishchildren.com.