Yom Kippur

Voices from the field

Six Jewish Heroes (Echoes of a Shofar)

By Aryeh Halivni

It is not every day you get to meet six Jewish heroes. I was fortunate enough to have done just that, in an amazing experience last year at the Kotel. 

First, a little background:

In the aftermath of the Arab riots throughout Palestine in 1929, the British convened a commission of inquiry to investigate the cause of the unrest. The Shaw Commission's recommendations granted the Arabs absolute ownership of the Western Wall and adjacent property. Jews were forbidden to bring Torah scrolls to the Kotel, to pray loudly, or to blow the shofar, so as not to offend the Arab population. 

On Yom Kippur of 1930, 20 year old Moshe Segal hid under a tallit and blew shofar at the end of Neilah. He was promptly arrested and sat in jail, still fasting. He was only released when Rav Kook interceded later that night.

Every year from 1930 - 1947, shofars were smuggled in to the Kotel where brave teenagers defiantly blew them at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. Some managed to get away - others were captured and sent to jail for up to six months.

Six of these men are still alive. Last August, these six men returned to the scene of their "crime". Armed with shofars, they recounted their individual stories and blew shofar again at the Wall. It was incredibly powerful and very emotional.

Their inspiring story is told in Echoes of a Shofar, the first installment in the "Eyewitness 1948" short film series produced by Toldot Yisrael and the History Channel. It is the centerpiece of an educational pilot program for the US developed with The iCenter and made possible through the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation and other funders.