Pastor Lorraine Coconato of Leaves of Healing Tabernacle in Chatsworth, CA invited me to blow shofar during a recent prayer service at her church. She was delivering a sermon about shofar to her congregation, and wanted them to hear the shofar as well. I enjoy finding common ground with people of good will from all faiths, so I accepted her offer.
Afterwards, she said she had a shofar and was planning to put a metal mouthpiece on it to make it easier to blow. This is from a letter I wrote to her about our discussion:
I share the letter here in case it will help others who may be considering turning their shofar back into a keren - an ordinary horn.You mentioned that you had a horn that is being refit with a mouthpiece. The Jewish tradition is that a shofar should not have a mouthpiece attached to it; that the blower’s lips should be in direct contact with the horn. One can imagine a variety of spiritual explanations for this. For example, one should have as authentic experience as one can of the shofar, and a mouth piece acts as an intermediary. When we can consider the symbolism of the ram (lamb) in both of our faiths’, we can understand the importance of hearing the voice of the ram (lamb) without an intermediary.
If you are considering a mouthpiece in order to make the horn easier to blow, I may be able to make your shofar easier to blow. Often, a simple modification of the blowhole will make a big difference. Similarly, I may be able to show you techniques that will make the shofar easier to sound.
I am grateful for the kind message I received from Pastor Lorraine:
Your skill and zeal for shofar blowing is amazing! It is a delight to unite with a Jewish brother who loves HaShem and desires to be His instrument!