Marking the New Year

From Our Collections

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

The Shofar was made in anticipation of Rosh Hashana 5704 (1943) by Moshe (Ben-Dov) Winterter from the city of Piotrkow, Poland 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 Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Finkler who was incarcerated in the camp. He yearned to fulfill the commandment of blowing the shofar at the Jewish New Year. Finding the horn of a ram, as required by Jewish law for the making of a shofar, was far from a 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. He did not at first agree. Preparing an item which was not an armament in the metal workshop, or even carrying something from the workshop to the barracks, carried with it a 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 Skarzysko-Kamienna and managed to keep it with him even when he was transferred to the camp at Czestochowa. When he was transferred from there to Buchenwald it remained in Czestochowa until the camp was liberated. At that time, 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 its transfer to Yad Vashem for safe keeping.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Moshe (Winterter) Ben-Dov (z”l), Bnei Brak, Israel