Shofar is used in wonderful new rituals for call Bar/Bat Yovel, son/daughter of yovel. Here are several examples:
From a ritual prepared by the "Life Cycle Passages" class of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Institute for Adult Jewish Studies, December 1983, Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Instructor.
After initial blessings and meaningful rituals, the shofar is used as follows:
Rabbi: Even in joy there are doubts, apprehensions, questions concerning what will be. As the bar yovel symbolically puts down and releases the tool of his trade, he asks four questions.
Hy (setting down his briefcase): As I enter the years of retirement and aging: Will I be bored or stimulated? Will I feel useless or valuable? Will I be lonely or involved with others? Will I feel despair or hope?The ritual concludes with additional blessings. I suggest the final shofar blast should be a tekiah gedolah, a long blast, and that it should be sounded by the bar/bat yovel to show their vitality (God willing).
Rabbi: Only the years to come can answer those questions, but tonight we can do several things to help Hy through his transition.
First, we have brought seven gifts. (Bestowal of symbolic gifts by seven friends.)Second, we can follow the traditional Jewish custom of offering tzedakah in Hy's honor. The money will be given to the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. (Each person present gives to a common bowl.)Third, we can scare away the demons as our ancestors did with the blast of the shofar.Reader 1:
The demon of boredom! (Shofar is sounded.)
The demon of uselessness! (Shofar is sounded.)
The demon of loneliness! (Shofar is sounded.)
The demon of despair! (Shofar is sounded.)
The shofar is not only heard to scare away evil. It was also used by our ancestors to proclaim the Jubilee Year.
"And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto thee the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years. Then shalt thou make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you; be shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy unto you; ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In this year of jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. And ye shall not wrong one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I am the LORD your God. Wherefore ye shall do My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land" (Lev. 25).
So do we tonight declare Hy a bar yovel sounding the shofar to proclaim his new status. (Shofar is sounded.)
We proudly present you with this certificate, testifying to your new place in the covenant community. Welcome and Mazal Tov! (Shofar is sounded.)
From A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: The Jewish Life-Spiral as a Spiritual Path, by Arthur Ocean Waskow and Phyllis Ocean Berman.
There are four moments of the inward-turning that would seem especially appropriate as focus-points for ceremony. One is retiring from a job or a career. Another is shifting to a smaller home. The third is learning to 'share' the dying of the growing number of one's friends who are walking the last steps of life. The forth is a conscious gathering to bless the next generation and plan one's own death.The essay continues with suggestions for rituals to mark the four inward turnings. The suggestion that the original meaning of yovel may have been a special note or a note used for a special call is new to me.
The first strikes some interesting resonances with the Jubilee tradition of the Hebrew Bible. In that tradition (Lev. 25), every fiftieth year was a year of social and individual transformation. One crucial aspect of that transformation was that working paused, for a long Shabbat. Indeed, the count of fifty for the Jubilee was based in a sabbatical count of seven sevens, seven weeks of years in which each week had seven years: forty-nine years plus one.
In that year, there was no organized agriculture. No sowing, no harvesting, no pruning of the grapevines. Whatever grew could casually be plucked. Whatever had been stored before could be drawn on to meet whatever needs arose. A whole society made itself into the nomadic hunter-gatherers of its early days.
Even more astonishing, every family returned to its earliest holding. Those who had come to own more land, gave up the burden of their wealth. Those who had lost the land their family knew, gave up the burden of their poverty.
The Hebrew word for this momentous event, Yovel, has entered many languages not intranslation but in rough transliteration — thus, 'Jubilee.' But some modern scholars, probing into the origins of this odd word, have concluded it was originally the term for a special note blown on the shofar (ram's horn) by shepherds — the special note to call home the flock at the end of a day of wandering in meadows, responding to the shepherd's crook, fearing wolves and lions.
'Home-bringing' is the way Everett Fox's translation of the Torah renders yovel.
"Home-bringing. An apt metaphor for the moment of retirement.
Bar Yovel, Bat Yovel. One who has become a child of the Home-bringing.
If you have used shofar in a bar/bat yovel, or other creative ritual, please write me to describe it.