Echoes of a Shofar

Posted on September 14, 2010

I wish you a Shana Tova, a happy and healthy new year and a Gmar Chatima Tova. I am pleased to share with you the timely and heroic story Echoes of a Shofar, a new short film from Toldot Yisrael.

80 years ago, at the end of Yom Kippur’s Neilah (closing) service at the Kotel, 26 year old Moshe Segal blew the shofar. He was promptly arrested and taken to jail, still fasting. He was only released when Rav Kook, the Chief Rabbi, interceded later that night.

What was his crime?

In the aftermath of the Arab riots throughout Palestine in 1929, the British convened a commission of inquiry to investigate the cause of the unrest. The Shaw Commission’s recommendations granted the Arabs absolute ownership of the Western Wall and adjacent property. Jews were forbidden to bring Torah scrolls to the Kotel, to pray loudly, or to blow the Shofar, so as not to offend the Arab population.

Despite this restriction, for the next seventeen years, the shofar was sounded at the Kotel every Yom Kippur. Shofars were smuggled in to the Kotel 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.

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.

Their powerful and inspiring story is told in Echoes of a Shofar, the first installment in the “Eyewitness 1948” short film series produced by Toldot Yisrael and the History Channel.

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