December 26, 2010   19 Tevet 5771
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Artistic expression has always played a role in the religious experience of the Jewish people. At Solel the design of our house of worship, the works of art that adorn our walls, and the ritual objects we use enhance our worship and honor our traditions. It is true that some of the works of art and craft go unnoticed as we rush through the halls to get to get to the Sanctuary. Other works, extraordinary ritual objects, are on the Bima and we only catch glimpses of them. The Days of Awe will give us a wonderful opportunity to view our Torahs dressed in their beautiful mantles and ornaments as Rabbi Taylor leads the joyous "hakafot." Perhaps there will also be time to notice other works.

The curtain in front of the Ark is original to the building. Its biblical precedent is "the veil which hung before the testimony in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness." (Exodus26:31-23. Its creator Leonore Tawney is an internationally acknowledged pioneer in contemporary fiber art. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The American Museum of Art and Craft in New York, and The Art Institute which honored her with a retrospective. In an early issue of The Pathfinder, the artist described her design for the congregation: "The curtain is a veil which hangs between you and the mystery of the Holy Scrolls--not hiding but enhancing the mystery."

Ina Gollub, an acclaimed textile artist who works exclusively in Judaica, created the Days of Awe torah mantles.

Our silver crown is the work of master silversmith Ludwig Wolpert (1900-1981) whose work was introduced to America at the Pavilion of Judaism at he 1938 World's Fair, Wolpert’s work is credited with bringing acceptance to the use of new materials and modern design for traditional ritual objects.

The suite of twelve lithographs that hangs in the lounge is the work of Abraham Rattner (1895-1978). His work is in the collections of The Art Institute, The Hirshorn and the Phillips in Washington, The Whitney in New York and The Vatican Museum. He designed the stained glass east window at the Loop Synagogue.

Boris Schatz (1867-1932) created the thirteen bronze medallions used to produce bookplates which hang on the wall outside the library. Schatz is honored not only for his own work but because he had a vision of a national Jewish art that would express, "...the soul of our people, felt in our prophets, in our customs, our rejoicing and our mourning." To fulfill his vision he founded the first school of the arts in Israel, the Bezalel School of Art and Craft.

(To be continued)

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