The Jewish New Year begins with the resounding cry of the shofar, an instrument made of ram's horn that has been in use for centuries.
In Bamidbar 29:1, the Torah bids Jews to sound the shofar for Rosh Hashanah, saying:
And in the seventh month, on the first of the month, it shall be declared a holiday for you, a day of sounding a teruah for you.
"Teruah" refers to the short staccato notes of the shofar's sound, which all-encompassed is believed to represent the voices of the prophets.
The Talmud explains why the ram horn of the shofar is significant:
The Torah tells us: Abraham look up and behold, he saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns [Genesis 22:13]. This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be God, showed our ancestor Abraham the ram tearing himself free from one thicket and becoming entangled in another. Said the Holy One, blessed be God, to Abraham: Thus are your children destined to be caught in iniquities and entangled in misfortunes, but in the end they will be redeemed by the horns of a ram. Therefore the prophet Zechariah said of the time of redemption: And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth like the lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the shofar, and shall move in stormy winds of the south [Zechariah 9:14].
Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on September 24, 2014 and ends on September 26. These exquisite shofars are a glimpse of the instrument that will help usher in the Jewish New Year: