web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Old and New: Podwal’s Altneuschul Paroches

McBee-122311-FrontPg

Podwal’s designs are brimming with symbols that anchor them in the very fabric of the Prague Jewish community. The three Torah covers are boldly emblazoned koof – lamed standing for Kodesh l’Hashem, Holy to the Lord as is surely the Torahs they cover. Central to this design is the elaboration of the lamed, known as the majestic letter, symbolic of the King of Kings, towering over all the others. He has used the grand guild banner from the Altneuschul itself as the lordly upper arm. This conflation of Prague Jewish civic pride with the Hebrew letter that connects to the Divine name reflects both the struggles and success of the community’s Jews with the city of Prague. It proclaims: Prague Jews are true to God and are here to stay!

Shulchan & Paroches (2011) by Mark Podwal Fabricated by Penn and Fletcher Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

On the Shulchan and Shtender covers Podwal employs the heraldic Lion of Judah (here with two tails) as ferocious guardians. On the Shulchan they stand at the ready flanking the Choshen haMihspat, the Breastplate of Judgment, worn by the High Priest. This represents the Crown of Priesthood, first honored whenever the Torah is read. The Shtender is similarly guarded by these very special lions, there framing an open book representing the siddur that is at the ready for the Shaliach Tzibur, the prayer leader. In both these designs Podwal has referenced the actual uses that his textiles facilitate. The Torah must be blessed before public reading, preferably first by a Kohen. His honor is paramount and is celebrated in Podwal’s design. So too the prayer leader: the open book of the siddur is his duty and glory to explicate for the congregation in his leadership of public prayer. The open book is his opportunity to lead the congregation to the Divine.

Crowning the exhibition is the paroches – a symphony of proud Czech Jewish symbols. Emblazoned at the prayer leader’s eyelevel is “Mimamakim kirosicha, From the Depths I called You” in the Hebrew font used in the famous 1526 Prague Haggadah. The traditional columns found on many Bohemian Torah curtains have been replaced by two columns of Torah pointers, each derived from actual pointers found in the Prague Jewish museum. Their twelve hands point up in a salutation and celebration of the One Above. Again we see the rampant lions with their distinctive double tails, incorporating the heraldic symbol found on the Bohemian Coat of Arms. This testifies both to the Tribe of Judah (i.e. Jewish Kingship) and the sovereign region of Bohemia. These lions are seen holding a Torah, itself laden with symbols. This little Torah’s mantle reflects subtly different aspects of Podwal’s design. We see again two lions atop two actual columns proudly framing the Ten Commandments and holding the Crown of Torah above it all.

Torah Curtain (detail) (2011) by Mark Podwal Fabricated by Penn and Fletcher Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

Most significantly the Torah depicted on the paroches is crowned with the walled Ghetto of Prague, the Altneuschul as its central and most prominent landmark. This Torah crowned with the Altneuschul is an absolutely unique image in which the source of every Jew’s faith, the Torah itself, is crowned with the place of a Prague Jew’s devotion, the Altneuschul. It is as if Podwal has embodied the phrase from the kedushah; “Blessed is the glory of Hashem from His Place” as the emblem of the Altneuschul.

At the very heart of Podwal’s Torah curtain design is a celebration of the Prague Altneuschel community and its physical presence. Every aspect of this Torah curtain fittingly refers back to the home it will soon occupy. In light of these new Torah ornaments the Prague Jewish community stands proud in its commitment to its own sacred history and its commitment to the city of Prague and its larger community. Mark Podwal’s gift to the Jews of Prague reverberates to all Jews who understand exactly how important and sacred our own synagogues are to each and every one of us.

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com A full color version of this review is at www.jewishpress.com – Magazine – Jewish Art

PHOTO CAPTION 1

PHOTO CAPTION 2 The Old New Synagogue (1980) pen and ink by Mark Podwal Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

PHOTO CAPTION 3 Torah Covers (2011) by Mark Podwal Fabricated by Penn and Fletcher Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

PHOTO CAPTION 4 Shulchan & Paroches (2011) by Mark Podwal Fabricated by Penn and Fletcher Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Old and New: Podwal’s Altneuschul Paroches”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel Lebanon Peace Project Flag
UN Demands Israel Pay Lebanon $850 Million
Latest Sections Stories
Games-121914

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

South-Florida-logo

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

South-Florida-logo

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

The NHS was also honored to have Bob Diener as keynote speaker.

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

“The secret to a good donut is using quality ingredients and the ability to be patient and give them time to proof.”

I so desperately want to have a loving relationship with my stepsons.

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of American Independence.

Because you can’t have kids pouring huge jugs of oil into tiny glasses, unless you want to turn your house into an environmental disaster.

Try these with your kids; there’s something for every age group and once all the recipes are made, dinner will be ready!

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/old-and-new-podwals-altneuschul-paroches/2011/12/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: