A plastic orange juice bottle, an empty paper towel roll and a tiny clay pot were meticulously glued together. To make it sparkle, splashes of purple, green, blue and gold paint were added.
Then, like magic, each of the items cobbled together began to resemble a shofar, an instrument traditionally made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal which is sounded on Rosh Hashanah, marking the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
Students in first through fifth grades at the Jewish Community Day School in Metairie participated in the first-time project to design and construct their own shofar. Aleeza Adelman, a fifth-grade teacher and the school’s culture coordinator, came up with the idea.
“After the kids learned about the shofar while preparing for the (Jewish) holidays, I thought making a shofar of their own would be a great idea for them to collaborate on together and add a fun level of competition as well,” Adelman said.
On the Jewish calendar, the New Year is 5775 and according to tradition, 5775 marks the number of years since the creation of the world. Last month, Rosh Hashanah was celebrated on Sept. 25. The shofar is sounded in all synagogues during worship services to welcome the New Year.
Fifth-grader Alexandra Stone said she enjoyed the project because of its artistic component.
“I really liked this project because it gave me a chance to use my creativity and my love for art,” Alexandra said.
“Since this is the first time we’ve done a project like this, I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out,” Jonas Benjo added. “But it’s been pretty much fun.”
Sharon Pollin is the head of the school.
“In class, the students had observed a shofar being made and learned about it as well — when it is sounded, why it is used and what makes a shofar kosher,” Pollin said. “Then in class groups, the students put their skills to use, communicating with one another, thinking critically to determine what their shofar should look like, and creatively using a variety of materials so each class could build their own unique shofar.”
Adelman said the shofars for each class were made from whatever materials the students wanted to use and they discussed how each shofar should be designed.
“For my class, I encouraged them to bring in items from their recycling bins at home, and to look around our classroom for other materials they wanted to use,” Adelman said. “And in terms of size, the shofars could be any size they wanted.”
The competition involved a panel of judges — Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg, Sue Singer, and Hugo and Lis Kahn — who selected the winning shofar from each class. Receiving the most creative award was the first grade and the loudest shofar award went to the second grade.
The shofar made by the third and fourth grades received the most decorative award. And the most durable shofar award went to the fifth grade.
“The aim of the project was to encourage collaboration and teamwork,” Adelman said. “And I hope the project helped to increase the students’ spirituality and happiness that each Rosh Hashanah brings.”