Street Shofar featuring IKAR's Sexy Shofar Man

[Video Link] My old Wired pal Jonathan Golub and his friends at IKAR made this hilarious "shofar-bombing" video for Rosh Hashanah. It was directed by Isaac Feder and features Michael Brous as Sexy Shofar Man (AKA Rabbi Sharon Brous’s brother).

IKAR is a progressive, egalitarian Jewish community, driven by a passionate belief in the relevance of the Jewish tradition and its power to infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. We believe that Jewish religious practice challenges us to wake up to our responsibilities as Jews and as human beings, and that the upcoming High Holy Days are nothing short of a call to transform our lives, our city and our world. So we sent our Sexy Shofar Man to hit the streets with his sweet shofar blowing to beckon the people of Los Angeles to wake up and think about what’s possible in 5773.

High Holy Days at IKAR


  1. Does anyone know, would it be some kind of violation of Kashrut for a gentile like me to play the shofar?

    As a brass musician, I’ve played everything from conchs and cow’s horns to mailing tubes and washing machine drain tubes, but I’ve never played a shofar.

    I’m thinking that thing has a fundamental about a ninth below what he’s playing, and maybe another fifth above. If my hand could reach the bell, I’m thinking I’d get maybe as much as a minor third below chromatically down from the available overtones.

    Not me, but Steve Turre, a hero:

    1. I don’t think it’d be a problem.  Email a Reform Rabbi and ask, you can likely get advice and more lore than you wanted, and could likely introduce you to the local blower.  You might want to wait until late September, as this is their busisest month.  There’s likely some who’d be offended, but they have their hobbies and you have yours, and playing odd instruments is a cooler, better hobby than being chronically offended.   

    2. It’s fine, there’s nothing sacred/kosher about the instrument itself.  They probably sell them at your local Judaica shop, and you’ll support your local temple.  Interestingly, the organ at my temple has a “Shofar” stop, and in the past some Reform temples used a trumpet in place of the shofar.  Come to services on Rosh Hashanah morning too!

      edit, for clarity

    3. Anyone can blow a shofar. The one I made is not fit for Jewish use unless no other one is available because I am Lutheran. I was happy to sell it to a Christian, though.

      Here is Ricky Skaggs leading thousands of shofar blowing Christians:

    4. No problem.  Here are some examples of folks using a shofar in non-religious music.

      And you can definitely get at least three notes out of a decent shofar.  Here’s a video of a typical set of shofar blasts as they’re done in many synagogues I’ve been to, although I think it’s more traditional to maintain a single constant pitch (like this) rather than tacking on embellishments with other notes.

      As for bending the pitch by reaching into the “bell” of the horn, you could definitely get a shorter shofar to try it.  The shofars in the Street Shofar video and the example I just linked are Yemenite style shofars from kudu horns, which are popular because they look really awesome.  But plain ram’s horns are also used to make shofars that can sound just as good, and can be just a few inches long in some cases.

  2. Anyone can play the shofar – in my recollection, many church-based Boy Scout troops have their folks make one (usually from an ibex horn, which looks Yemenite to this Jew). However for Jews to fulfill the mitzvah of *listening* to a shofar, it has to be played by a Jewish adult (traditionally, a man).

    And yes, they sound most easily on the 3rd/5th of the fundamental, but (as in the recommended video) with bell occlusion or very, very careful lipping, it’s possible to approximate other intervals. I can play “Taps” pretty well. Tekiah away!

  3. We need a friendly duet between sexy shofar guy and drumadan guy, tearin up the streets of Brooklyn and LA, waking up the neighbors, setting off car alarms, putting the Rosh in Hashana and the Ram in Ramadan.

  4. And as the resident sheep and goat rancher here, I will say that that looks way more like a goat’s horn than a sheep’s.

  5. A shofar is basically the sound of a call to return, what we call “tshuva”  … to God, to truth, to the divine spark within you, to whatever your truth is.   The shofar says… time to get back to it.   It’s a spiritual wake up call that sounds every morning for the entire month of Elul (that’s now), and then, on Rosh HaShannah it is a trumpet proclaiming the yearly birth (rebirth) of creation and, if it works for you, the glory of the creator.        

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