Arts & Culture

Christians Blame Jews For Bad Economy, Then Play The Shofar

Recently, a group of Christians gathered in lower Manhattan to pray around (or to, depending on how you choose to interpret the photos) the statue of the bull near Wall Street in hopes of getting the Lord to take over … Read More

By / April 1, 2008

Recently, a group of Christians gathered in lower Manhattan to pray around (or to, depending on how you choose to interpret the photos) the statue of the bull near Wall Street in hopes of getting the Lord to take over our economy. An industrious young man happened to be walking by and captured some amazing photos and video that has set off a flurry of discussion questioning exactly what was going on around that graven image.

But my question is why were Christians blowing a shofar while committing what appears to be idolatry? I mean, Cindy Jacobs the self-proclaimed prophet who led the Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies at the bull statue had not-too-subtly blamed the Jews (and the homosexuals) for the current economic crisis. Yet it doesn’t take much more than a Wikipedia search to know that a shofar is pretty important in Jewish religious practice. So, what is the connection? Why were these Christians using a shofar while praying at/around/to a bronze bull?

For a little background, I am Jewish but I was raised middle America Christian. Going to church every Sunday for the first 18 years of my life doesn’t make me an expert on Christian thought, but does offer a little insight into Christian practice and I don’t remember any goat horn playing as part of any religious observance. Organ music, hand-bell choir, pianos, guitars, drums, puppet shows and I was even part of a clown troupe called Clowns for Christ, but before converting to Judaism my only exposure to the sound of a shofar was the opening of the musical Godspell.

So to help figure out a legitimate use of a shofar in Christian practice (besides apparently interceding at the New York Stock Exchange) I consulted a few experts and the Internet. A Google search of the words “shofar” and “Christian” brought me to the website of an intensely proselytizing South African church that has not only taken Shofar as their name, but among other things says the instrument is used to mobilize “God’s army.” Another website full of pictures and videos of men and women blowing shofarot (the correct plural of shofar) announced times/places and ways to sign up for the next bring-your-own-shofar protests against things like gay marriage and abortion. From the buzz words on most of these websites they all appeared to be part of the Evangelical movement (or “born again” Christians). My terribly unscientific survey of my experts involved calling my mom (a lay minister in the Lutheran church) and my sister, who has done missionary work abroad and has close ties to the Evangelical church. Although my mom consulted with a few of her pastor friends, none were aware of any liturgical use of the shofar in Christian worship. My sister however put me in touch with her Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) Worship Director. We had a delightful chat, and he offered a little more insight into why some Christians seem to like to blow the shofar. Although he also confirmed that he was unaware of a regular use of the shofar in any standard Christian worship, he in fact had once used a shofar blast for dramatic purposes at the start of a special musical piece they were performing at his church. He also said that three of his congregants owned and played the shofar.
So in my brief survey, while I didn’t find any evidence of regular incorporation of shofar playing in Christian churches, there does appear to be an individual fascination with playing of the shofar in some Christian circles. Some Christian gift shops even have shofarot available for purchase. Which brings us back to the bull. We can only speculate why this woman was playing her shofar last week. And as out-of-context it may have appeared to my Jewish eyes, since it would be safe to say if she identifies with an Evangelical type of Christianity, shofar playing at/around/to the bronze bull statue may make sense in her practice. And besides, the shofar is a cool instrument, can be beautifully decorative and makes a strange almost primal sound. Why wouldn’t the Christians want to be one of the cool kids – like the Jews – and have one of those goat horns?