Shofar - ram's horn
Shofar - ram's horn

 My great grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1913 from an area of Russia that today is part of Belarus. Their shtetl (village) was called Bobruysk. Under the last Tzar, Nicholas II of Russia, Jews were labeled enemies of the state.  Tzar Nicholas sanctioned (pogroms) attacks on Jewish villages throughout his empire.  These attacks included beatings, burning of the village and death for many residents. 
 The family story is that my great grandparents, Ruchel and Chune (Rachel and Hyman) fled as a young married couple hours before a planned pogrom.  They boarded a ship and arrived in New York. They were both 17 years old.  
My father’s mother’s family was deeply religious.  That is why they came to America. They wanted to practice Judaism without fear of attack from the Russian government. The young couple brought with them, a prayer book and shofar. 
A shofar is a horn that is blown on the High Holidays. The shofar is made from a ram’s horn. It is very heavy and smooth to the touch.  The sound resembles a crying voice. It is sharp and deep and very distinct.  It is meant to remind Jews during Rosh Hashanah to be reflective and reverent.  It has a distinct smell of leather and bone. I know that many, many members of my family have used it over the years. When I blow on the shofar, I get a salty taste in my mouth.  It may be offensive to some, but for me, the salty residue is a reminder of ancestors, that they are with me as I create a sound and celebrate a tradition passed down for thousands of years. 

Place(s): Belarus, New York City, Ridgefield
Year: 1913


Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more