By Dr. Yvette Alt Miller / aish.com
Under Turkish and then British rule, Jewish activity at the Western Wall (the Kotel) — the last remaining remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the holiest site of the Jewish people — was severely constrained. British law restricted Jews who wanted to pray at the Wall: Jews were not allowed to recite prayers loudly, they could not bring a Torah to the Wall, and they were forbidden from sounding the Shofar.
On Yom Kippur 1930, at the conclusion of the Neila (the closing prayer recited just before sundown), a sound rang out that had not been heard at the Kotel in generations: the ringing blast of a Shofar. A young rabbi, Moshe Segal, had smuggled a Shofar to the Kotel, and blew it at its traditional place at the end of the Yom Kippur service.
Rabbi Segal was soon arrested, but in the intervening years, other Jewish boys — all in their teens — took his place. Each year from 1930 to 1947, Jewish teenagers smuggled Shofars to the Kotel, concealing them under their clothing, and blew them at the end of Yom Kippur. The boys worked in teams of three, aiming to blow the Shofar at each end of the Wall and in the middle. Abraham Caspi, who was 16 when he blew the Shofar at the Western Wall in 1947, remembers being told “You’ll be the first, and if you don’t succeed or are caught, someone else will do it.”