What is a Shofar made from?
Shofars are made from the horns of Kosher animals. Most commonly, the Shofar is made from a ram’s horn. Yemenite Shofars are made from the horns of kudu antelope because this was an animal commonly found in the region where the Yemenite Jews lived. Kudu antelope are actually found almost exclusively in eastern and southern Africa.
Due to the natural origin of the Shofar, no two Shofars look exactly alike. The older a ram or kudu becomes the larger and more twisted their horns become, especially with rams. In fact, horns of older rams can often form two or three complete loops. Nowadays, it is harder to find large ram’s Shofars due to widespread animal diseases and strict veterinary requirements of the Israel Health Ministry that oversees the import of the Shofars.
The classic Shofar is, without a doubt, the ram’s horn variety. It is possible to purchase such Shofars with or without a polished finish. Most of these Shofars are light-colored but some stores will stock black Shofars made from the horns of black rams.
Flat Ram’s Horn Shofars– these are commonly used by Moroccan and German Jews and their shape is uniquely flat with an upturned end. These types of Shofars were popular in these countries because in time of persecution they could be easily hid under clothes.
Bavli Shofars are natural, unfinished ram’s horn Shofars that have a very deep sound. These kind of Shofars are often used by Iraqi and Iranian Jews.
Yemenite Shofars are made from the horns of kudu antelope and have a characteristic spiral shape.
First of all, it should be clarified that the size of the Shofar affects in no way whatsoever the “Kosher-ness” of the Shofar. If you are buying from a reliable source, all of the Shofars should be Kosher.
Smaller Shofars are popular with people who need to travel around, soldiers and those going to blow the Shofar for other people in places like hospitals and private houses.
Larger, deeper-sounding Shofars as well as the medium-sized Shofars are the most popular kind for use in Synagogues.
For those who ask why larger Shofars are so much more expensive than the smaller Shofars, the larger the Shofar, the larger the horn needed to make it. Kosher animals with large horns are a rarity and even when they are found it is much more complex to make horns out of them. The prices of the large Shofars reflect this.