By Michael Jacobs / firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming soon to a synagogue, religious school or day school near you for the High Holidays: an all-new Shofar Factory from JCrafts, the Chabad-backed organization whose holiday highlights also include an olive press for oil at Chanukah and a matzah-making factory at Passover.
Rabbi Levi Mentz, who heads JCrafts in Georgia, said that compared with last year’s version, the new Shofar Factory includes better costumes and the addition of music. “This is much better,” he said. “You gotta keep things fresh and innovative.”
The Shofar Factory demonstrates the entire process that turns a ram’s horn into a shofar. It includes a brief history of the shofar and an exploration of which horns can and can’t be used.
It’s hands-on education: Each child gets a raw shofar and uses machinery to extract the cartilage, drill a hole and create a mouthpiece. The shofars-to-be then ride a conveyor belt into a machine that strips off the coarse outer layers of the horns and prepares them for shellacking.
Participants finish painting their shofars, then learn to blow them before taking them home.
“The kids love it,” Rabbi Mentz said. “The dads love it possibly more than the kids.”
The workshop lasts about an hour and is free for participants. Although JCrafts offers the demonstration to preschoolers, children who are going to use the machinery should be at least 9, the rabbi said.
The Shofar Factory will pop up at five Home Depot stores outside the Atlanta area in cities such as Macon and Columbus, Rabbi Mentz said. But unlike JCrafts’ Passover presentation, which included the Home Depot in Buckhead, the High Holiday learning experience within the metro area will appear only at Jewish institutions.