Aidan Kelly, 6, of Oxnard was brimming with excitement as he helped make an instrument from a ram’s horn Wednesday at Chabad of Oxnard.
Leading the Shofar Factory workshop were Shmuly Zucker of Brooklyn N.Y., and Berel Fine of Montreal. They are traveling through California, demonstrating how to make a shofar, the ram’s horn used during Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year; and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
The presentation Wednesday at Chabad of Oxnard was the first time the traveling group had visited, but Rabbi Dov Muchnik, Chabad’s director, said he remembers the demonstrations from his childhood. “I grew up back in New York. I know how much fun they are and it’s a good way to bring a message as well,” Muchnik said.
Lily Ettedgui-Scott, 6, held her nose because of the pungent odor released from the horn as it was cut with a table saw. Her mother, Eva Ettedgui of Ventura, said the demonstration is just one of the great programs offered by the Hebrew School at Chabad of Oxnard. “There’s usually a hands-on component like arts and crafts,” Ettedgui said.
During the demonstration, Zucker explained to the children which horns are appropriate for shofars. He said cow horns are not allowed because they remind God of the sin of the Golden Calf. “Rosh Hashana is a time to remind God of the good things we do. Anything associated with cows is a no-no,” Zucker said.
He then displayed a buffalo horn, which also is not allowed because it’s associated with cows. Deer antlers can’t be used for shofars because they are made of solid bone. Rams’ horns are soaked in water to begin making a shofar. During that process the cartilage in the middle of the horn will loosen and is taken out. An antler has no soft cartilage in the middle.
Zucker then had Lily help him use a bent hangar to measure the horn before cutting it with a table saw. After cutting the horn, Zucker drilled a hole in the end. He smoothed the edges with a sander and applied a layer of shellac everywhere but inside the shofar and at the tip where it is blown. Zucker presented the finished horn to Muchnik after demonstrating that it worked. He then blew the shofar to demonstrate the long, drawn-out note known as a takia.