For the Shofar Blower

A poem for the New Year

The following poem is written from the point of view of a woman blowing the shofar (ram’s horn), but it can speak just as strongly to those listening to the shofar. Reference is made in the poem to the biblical figures Shifra and Puah, the Egyptian midwives who defied Pharaoh’s orders and did not kill the male Israelite children. The poet uses the terms hutzpadik, meaning "nervy," Emainu, meaning "our mother," Hayot Hakodesh, meaning "celestial beings," and the phrase B’or paneha yehalayhun, meaning "They walk in the light of Your countenance" (Psalms 89:16). The poem is reprinted with permission from Journey, a journal of Jewish feminism published by Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project.

At this awesome season


with all possibility we pray today:

By our choices and deeds,

with Divine Intervention,

Supernal Midwife of Israel

and of All Creation,


assist us

to birth as yet unknown wonders,

miracles of Life.

With an awesome fear of God,

I place this shofar to my lips.

May the breath

You breathe inside me momentarily,

now return to You

to be renewed and return again

to this world for Life, for Peace

May the birthcries of my shofar blasts

be pleasing to You,

as the words and deeds of Shifra

with fear of You, she

lovingly births Your People:


to do Your Will.

Like Puah,

be hutzpadik

in Your advocacy

Encourage us toward Life

even when we ourselves may feel discouraged,

distressed in the midst

of life’s hard pangs.

Breathe life into us anew!

While others take us for dead.

Lest we face despair of lost hope,

even we,

may abandon ourselves.

In the name of Shifra, Puah,

Sara Emainu


in the name of Rahel Emainu,

let her tears for her children,

be of gladness and joy.

In the name of God that is Birth,

let the joy of becoming, of hearing

sounds from this birthing shofar

overcome and become us all.

God, cleanse us of our sins

like the midwife

who cleanses the newborn infant.

Wrap us in the beautiful garments

of the Soul.

Bathe us in Your Light

so our Divine nature may shine

even as we walk joyously in Your Light –

B’or paneha yehalayhun!

May the breath of my being

blown into this shofar

hearken us

back to the shofar

that is Shifra

and the breath

that is Puah.

Deliver us from the narrows

of, God Forbid, an evil decree,

into the breadth of sound.

Signal in us an expansion.

Together God

may we birth this coming year!


Supernal Midwife,

send me no angel, no seraph, not even

Be Thou my Midwife!

Be Thou my angel!

Be Thou My Self!

Birth me yet again anew,

renewed for this coming year.

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