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Ultimately, Podwal’s deep and abiding faith comes through in the letter “aleph” crowned in “Praise.” Psalm 8:2 declares, “How majestic is Your name throughout the earth” and the might and glory of the Holy Name that encapsulates that which is unnamable, unknowable and ineffable is coronated as the beginning, the aleph, of all creation. The entire verse clusters around 4 iterations of the first Hebrew letter, linking majesty and might with the foundation of the universe.

Sanctuary is the means by which God’s holiness can dwell with and become accessible to us. It is the refuge God gives us in times good and bad. Our experiences of the trials of ever-present anti-Semitism send us to the bastions of blind faith as well as the depths of despair. And yet we return, to the Holy One, in His sanctuary.


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Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at