Art Glass Ark Wall

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News | 0 comments

Art Glass Ark Wall

Four years after a devastating fire destroyed the Chisuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg, Pa, a new home opened – built from scratch on a hilltop in an established neighborhood.  I was able to work on many aspects of this ‘design-built’ project, the largest, so far, being the ark wall.  Three of us lay leaders, the rabbi, and 3 architects were charged with developing a design for the entire wall that suits a 21st century, light-filled new synagogue. What we came up with is what you see here.  With the gift of Youghiogheny and other art glass from a fellow artist, I began to imagine what to do with the color as we placed the ark against a glazed eastern wall. I learned to cut and grind glass, and ended up with over 400 small panels which I then intentionally laid out, in concert with the woodworker who fabricated the magnificent wall in three tones of wood. Here’s a look at the glass and the process of marking the templates for the construction workers to place, 18 feet above the bimah...

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Torah Mantle for Rescued Scroll

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art | 2 comments

Torah Mantle for Rescued Scroll

Some 1,500 Torah scrolls were confiscated from Czech Jewish communities during the Holocaust, and many have been restored and respectfully placed in thriving new communities where they are in use today.  Goucher College Hillel in Baltimore, Maryland acquired one such scroll, and after extensive restoration, it has been put into service at the college. I was given the honor of crafting a new mantle and wimple (sash or binder) for the scroll.  Students were encouraged to fill out a questionnaire I designed, and from those answers and consultation with the Hillel directors, we decided that this cover would be muted earth tones with a tree in full leaf representing continuity of life.  The Hebrew words L’Dor Va’dor (from generation to generation) provide a connection to this and future generations of college students who will read from the scroll.  Tiny Czech glass rocaille beads embellish the letters. The mantle cover is constructed of silks – raw, shantung, and dupionne.  Thickly quilted and lined, with hardwood rings on the top, this mantle will serve for years and years to honor and protect a precious rescued...

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Beyn Gavra

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art | 0 comments

Beyn Gavra

A happy byproduct of the explosion of interest in Jewish ritual arts over the last 30 years is that people have been delving deep and ‘recovering’ a knowledge of objects and ceremonies that have gathered generations of dust in many American Jewish communities.  The Beyn Gavra is one such object.  Though many people are familiar with the custom of respectfully covering the Torah scroll with a decorative cloth or it’s mantle during lulls between readings, most people are unfamiliar with the name of this covering.  The Beyn Gavra has recently been embraced as yet another opportunity for congregations to involve in the act of “hiddur mitzvah,” the enhancement of ritual observance by making it beautiful. Here is a needlepoint Beyn Gavra I designed for a synagogue. It was crafted by several different needleworkers working on small looms.  When completed, the segments were professionally assembled.  I sewed a sleeve onto the back so it served as a focal object hung next to the ark when it was not in use over the Torah scroll.  I painted the needlepoint scrim, counting the holes so that the designs on all four sides lined up exactly when finished and assembled. Sadly, this piece was lost in an accidental fire that destroyed the synagogue.  Lost, too, were the needlepoint doors of the ark and the 5 Torah mantles, each of which I had designed.  One of the remarkable stories that came from the event is that the mantles, heavily stitched in wool and perle cotton and backed with heavy velvet, took the brunt of the heat, water, and soot that destroyed the ark, and served to protect the scrolls, 4 of which were restored after the...

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Pomegranate Torah Mantle

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News | 0 comments

Pomegranate Torah Mantle

Students at the Goucher College Hillel responded to a questionnaire I constructed with requests that one of their two Torah mantles feature “jewel tones” and a way to convey to future students and visitors that Goucher has provided an inclusive, inspiring springboard for life within and beyond the college campus.  The words “Hazak V’Nitkhazek”  (Be strong, and let us strengthen one another) was the text the Hillel directors and I settled upon, and the beauty and recognizable ritual familiarity of the pomegranate represents the richness of the college experience and also a recognition that for most of Goucher’s history it was a highly regarded women’s college. The materials are thickly quilted silks, hand-braided cording, garnet and Czech glass beads, and Lumiere fabric paint....

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Torah Dedication – New Mantles at Dickinson College

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art, Susan at work, Visual Art | 0 comments

Torah Dedication – New Mantles at Dickinson College

I was commissioned to craft two Torah mantles for scrolls at the Dickinson College Hillel.  A metal and glass ark by Gary Rosenthal preceded the commission and I used the timing as an opportunity to engage students in a workshop to really look at the colors, textures and images of the ark.  The students identified color and worked with me as we sketched the two different mantles.  Here’s the result!  A ceremonial wimple accompanies the Torah mantles and hangs near the ark when not in...

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Torah Mantle – L’Dor Vador

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art | 0 comments

Torah Mantle – L’Dor Vador

Goucher College Hillel commissioned this mantle to cover a Torah rescued from Czechoslovakia after WW II.  The mantle is crafted of silks, and is heavily quilted.  Student input helped determine the color palette, the wording (“From generation to generation…”) and the image of a tree.  Tiny Czech rocaille beads cluster at the waistlines of the letters and on top of the ‘tagin’ (crowns) that top a few of the letters. Made to fit the Torah exactly, a matching wimple (binder) completes the new covering for the Torah scroll.  Designed to be handled considerably, the mantle has hardwood rings at the top and the top is padded.  The lining fabric is a sturdy material with considerable ‘slip’ to allow the mantle to glide onto and off the Torah when used.  A full flapped back gives the mantle lots of room to wrap around the Torah and to be foolproof when a person unaccustomed to the honor steps up to dress the scroll.    ...

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