The sounding of the shofar during the liberation of the Western Wall in the Six-Day War remains one of the most poignant moments in the history of the country. It has been captured in recordings and images, depicting Rabbi Shlomo Goren proudly performing this act. Over the years, additional accounts have emerged, suggesting that Goren, then chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, was overwhelmed by the occasion, to the point where he struggled to produce the shofar's sound.
It was then that Uzi Eilam, a brigadier general in the Paratroopers' 71st Brigade and a skilled trumpeter, came to the rescue, taking the shofar and sounding it.
Now, a third individual claims to have preceded them both. Yaakov Cohen, 81, did not seek recognition even when he remained outside the pages of history. His story recently came to light during a chance encounter with officials from the Givat HaTachmoshet National Heritage Site. Cohen recounted that he too had blown the shofar and was captured in a photograph published in the "Bamahane" newspaper – a Hebrew-language weekly magazine published by the IDF.
"I was in the reserves," Cohen reminisces, "when suddenly I saw Rabbi Goren's driver, searching for a Torah scroll to bring to the Western Wall. We went to the Schneller camp and retrieved one from there. On Tzfania Street, at the corner of Ezekiel, we saw an elderly man who took out a shofar and asked to accompany us to the Wall. There were shots fired, so I assured him that I would take the shofar and blow it at the Wall. After my initial blow, Rabbi Goren's aide arrived and took the shofar from me. Maybe he was upset that I had sounded it."
Jacob kept this story to himself and shared it only with close family and friends. "I'm a modest person," he explains, "and anyone who knows me knows that I blew the shofar. Some say I was the first. I don't know the answer to that; maybe we'll never know."