“Echoes of a Shofar” is the premiere episode in the “Eyewitness 1948” short film series produced by Toldot Yisrael and the History Channel.
Since being posted less than two weeks ago, the video has been viewed more than 90,000 times on YouTube and is now available at the chabad.org video site, Jewish.TV.
The video tells the amazing story of the shofar blowing at the Kosel during the years 1930-1947 when British law made it illegal to blow the shofar at the Kotel, pray loudly there, or bring Torah scrolls, so as not to offend the Arab population.
Despite this restriction, for the next seventeen years, the shofar was sounded at the Wall at the conclusion of every Yom Kippur.
Shofars were smuggled to the Wall where brave teenagers defiantly blew them at the conclusion of the fast. Some managed to get away – others were captured and sent to jail for up to six months.
Six of these men are still alive and two weeks ago, these six men returned to the scene of their “crime.” Armed with shofars, they recounted their individual stories and blew shofar again at the Kotel.
The first of these “rebel shofar blowers” was the Chabad-Lubavitch chosid, Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Segal who blew the shofar at the Wall in 1930. Every year thereafter, someone followed in his footsteps and blew the shofar as an act of defiance against the British regime.
After the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, Rabbi Segal was the first Jew to take up residence in the Old City and would continue to mark the conclusion of Yom Kippur by blowing the shofar at the Wall each year. It is told that one year he wanted to travel to Brooklyn to spend the High Holidays with the Rebbe , but the Rebbe told him that he was not to give up the wonderful merit he had of sounding the shofar at the Wall.
Rabbi Segal died in 1984 on Yom Kippur and was buried on the Mount of Olives. Many of his children and grandchildren serve as Chabad emissaries in Israel and throughout the world.
For Rabbi Segal’s firsthand written account of the incident, read this stirring article