The streets of Melbourne are alive no matter what the time of year – but there’s an increase in the hustle and bustle when there are festivities in the air. This year, something happened that many Jewish people residing in Melbourne thought wouldn’t be possible. Australia has been locked in a battle with the recent pandemic – becoming victim to some of the strictest lockdowns globally.
Many feared the sounds of the shofar wouldn’t fill the streets during the celebration of Rosh Hashana due to the lockdown restrictions – but Jewish communities in Sydney and Melbourne were granted the green light. Keep on reading to learn about the shofar, the sounds that filled Australia’s streets, and what it meant for the Jewish communities.
The shofar is an ancient horn that produces loud musical sounds – it’s typically made of hard ram’s horn and creates a unique tone often linked to religious callings. There are hundreds of variations of shofar horns for sale – some are in a traditional horn shape, some twist and curl to create a unique design, but most of them produce the same sound. There’s no way of controlling the pitch other than if the player varies their embouchure.
The Significance Of Sounding The Shofar
The sounding of the shofar is highly significant in Jewish culture, religion, and history – but the same is somewhat true for Christianity. Over the last few centuries, Christians have begun using the shofar to signify the start of prayer, with many filling the streets with the sounds of the shofar in Israel.
Jewish communities are the ones who use the shofar most significantly, with one use for the Rosh Hashana festival. The horn is used to signify the start of a new religious calendar and for Jewish people to repent and prepare for the upcoming year. Each new day of Rosh Hashana, the shofar should sound 30 times. It also sounds every day of the month of Elul – and signals the end of the day of fasting on Yom Kippur.
The difference between the Jewish and Christian use is Judaism uses it to celebrate and signify a religious holiday, whereas – Christians use it more to signal the start of a prayer.
Celebrations In Australia
There are small pockets of Jewish communities in Australia – especially in Melbourne and Sydney, where shofar blowing got the green light this year. There are many synagogues dotted around both of these major Australian cities – although Jewish people have been warned about visiting them this year due to the current restrictions. Although the use of the shofar is OK, mass gatherings aren’t, meaning trips to the synagogue are out of the question.
Still, Jewish people can celebrate in their homes with their families and fill the streets with the sounds of the shofar.
The shofar is a religious and ritual instrument that every Jewish household will own – and even some Christian. Its use is spreading around the world, especially in locations where Jewish communities are growing. Practicing Jewish people will sound the shofar at the high holy days and celebrate the religious festivities.