Biblical Archaeology Review 38:1, January/February 2012

ReViews: Catalog Capsule

Sound the Shofar: A Witness to History

Edited by Filip Vukosavović (Jerusalem: Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, 2011), 72 pp., $23 (paperback)

The subtitle of this exhibit catalog from the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem calls the shofar “a witness to history,” and indeed it has been. The shofar has been present at many of the most important events throughout the history of the Jewish people, and as noted by editor (and exhibit curator) Filip Vukosavović, unlike the Star of David or even the menorah, “the shofar is one of the oldest and most recognizable symbols of Judaism ... in continual use in a wide variety of circumstances for more than 3,000 years.” The blowing of the shofar (a simple wind instrument made from the horn of certain kosher animals, but not deer or cattle) has accompanied both triumph and tragedy—as military fanfare (most famously at the Battle of Jericho described in Joshua 6), as sacred herald of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the onset of the Sabbath, and to proclaim herem (expulsion) against a member of the Jewish community. Sound the Shofar includes stories of shofars that were used in the concentration camps and the one that Rabbi Shlomo Goren sounded at the Western Wall the day in 1967 when Israeli troops took the Old City during the Six-Day War, both of which serve to highlight the emotional connection between the Jewish people and this ancient instrument.

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