Fifth Graders Write Meaningful Poems Exploring “Kol Shofar”

In their exploration of Rosh Hashanah, fifth graders in Ms. Rubenstein’s Jewish Studies classes explored the shofar. Ms. Rubenstein began by posing a question to the students. “In the prayer we say before blowing the shofar, we say lishmoa kol shofar, praising God for commanding us to hear the voice of the shofar. Why do we use the word “voice”, kol, to describe the shofar, instead of one of the various words that strictly means sound?” Students listened intently to the shofar, thinking about what the kol said to them. To some, it was jarring, almost a warning. Other students heard a sound like an alarm, waking us up. Some referred to the sound as “like crying”. 

Students studied poems based around the shofar services said on Rosh Hashanah, exploring the themes of malchuyot, zichronot, and shofarot (sovereignty, remembrance, and shofars). Using these poems and the discussions they had in class on the theme of kol shofar, students wrote their own poems about what the kol shofar said to them. 

“I wanted students to understand that when we hear the shofar, it has meaning. The shofar is not simply a loud sound- there is a reason behind why we blow it. I also hoped that students would take away some personal ownership of the shofar’s sound- what it means to them. Each person has their own relationship with the sound of the shofar, and I wanted to help students develop theirs,” explained Rubenstein.

The fifth graders enjoyed the experience. “I liked learning about why we blow the shofar, and I enjoyed examining mentor poems to help me get ideas to help me create my own poem,” shared fifth grader Ariella.

Fifth graders Michelle and Lev shared their poems below.