Jacksonville Jewish Center Sounds Shofar

Atticus Dickson, Contributing Writer

“It is a wake up call,” says Justin Sakofs, Congregational Learning Director for the JJC. Sakofs continued that the ceremony of the shofar is made up for three types of notes, “t’kia…one long sound, “sh’varim… three ‘mournful wails’, and “t’rua…nine short blasts.”

For the entire Jewish lunar month of Elul, the Jacksonville Jewsih Center has blown the shofar all around town. A shofar is a hollowed animal horn, usually that of a ram, that is blown daily for the month of Elul in spiritual preparation for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. 

Each sound has a different spiritual purpose, which Sakofs explains with a clever comparison to a storefront marquee, “think about the sounds in terms of a marquee of lights. T’kia is on, and is there as is there to say ‘keep looking more information coming’ or ‘read on’ and asks the listener to go inside and reflect. Sh’varim is like the blinking ‘Open Sign,’ the store is open, but you don’t have to rush in right away. T’rua on the other hand are rapid blinking lights saying ‘immediate action required.’

I think it’s amazing that [the Jacksonville Jewish Center] is keeping this 3000 year old tradition alive during the coronavirus.”

— Aaron Shumer '22

In this comparison, the “store” is the Jewish New Year, in this case, the year 5781, and the marquee sign shows an opportunity to cleanse yourself of the sins and mistakes you made in the past year, and come into the New Year with a clean slate

While many high school students are likely unfamiliar with the shofar, students who have grown up in the Jewish community see them at least once a year, and sometimes even receive them as Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts.

Aaron Shumer (‘22) said he had never personally blown the shofar, “[but he] enjoys the shofar blowing on High Holidays every year and I think it’s amazing that [the Jacksonville Jewish Center] is keeping this 3000 year old tradition alive during the coronavirus.”

Paxon student Julia DeBardelaben (‘22), shared that at her former Jewish school, the Martin J. Gottlieb Jewish Day School, it was “the cool thing to know how to do,” even though she says that the shofar smells like “a dead animal.”