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The Artifacts Collection

Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum

Shofar (Ram’s Horn) made under perilous conditions in the forced labor camp Skarżysko-Kamienna in Poland in 1943

A shofar that was crafted in preparation for the Jewish New Year in the Skarżysko-Kamienna forced labor camp in Poland, 1943A shofar that was crafted in preparation for the Jewish New Year in the Skarżysko-Kamienna forced labor camp in Poland, 1943
Moshe Winterter (Ben-Dov), who endangered his life to craft the shofar in the Skarżysko-Kamienna campMoshe Winterter (Ben-Dov), who endangered his life to craft the shofar in the Skarżysko-Kamienna camp

The shofar was made in advance of Rosh Hashana 5704 (1943) by Moshe (Ben-Dov) Winterter who was an inmate in the camp and worked in the metal workshop of the armaments factory.

The idea of making a shofar was initiated by the Radoszyce Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzhak Finkler who was also an inmate in the camp. He yearned to fulfill the commandment of blowing the shofar on the Jewish New Year in order to arouse the Almighty’s mercy, particularly at this time. Finding the horn of a ram, as required by Jewish law for the making of a shofar, was a far from simple task. A Polish guard was bribed, and brought a horn to the camp, but it turned out to be the horn of an ox. Only in exchange for a further bribe did he bring a ram’s horn. The Rabbi approached Moshe Winterter, whom he knew from Piotrkow, and asked him to make the shofar. At first he did not agree. Preparing an item that was not an armament in the metal workshop, or even carrying something from the workshop to the barracks, carried with it the penalty of immediate death.

In spite of the danger, Moshe Winterter carried out the task and on the eve of the holiday brought the shofar to the Rabbi. Word spread, and on the holiday eve the inmates gathered for prayers and to hear the sounds of the shofar.

Moshe Winterter kept the shofar with him throughout his incarceration in Skazysko- Kamienna, and managed to keep it with him even when he was transferred to the camp at Czestochowa, but when he was transferred from there to Buchenwald, it remained in Czestochowa. When the camp was liberated, the shofar was passed on to the local Jewish community and later taken to the United States. Moshe Winterter immigrated to Israel after the war. In 1977 he assisted in the shofar’s transfer to Yad Vashem for safekeeping.

Yad Vashem Collection, Jerusalem, Israel
Donation, Moshe (Winterter) Ben-Dov, Bnei Brak, Israel

Additional artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum