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Torah Crown

Torah Crown

Moshe Zabari (Israeli, b. 1935)
New York, New York, United States, 1969
  • Silver: raised and forged; pearls
  • Height: 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm) Diameter: 15 3/8 in. (39 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Albert A. List Family , JM 85-69
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Torah Crown

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Like older examples of Torah crowns, Moshe Zabari's modernist work emphasizes the majesty of the Torah. Zabari, however, eschews the traditional crown shape in favor of a more abstract form. He defines the volume of the ornament with fluid, curved lines and small pearls that hang in the in-between spaces. When the crown is carried, the pearls shake and the silver wires quiver, evoking the movement of the dangling bells that often appear on older crowns.

Discuss with students:

  • It is traditional to decorate the Torah with a crown. Why do you think that is?

  • Look at this crown. How would you describe the lines that make up the crown? Make a list of descriptive words. How would you describe the texture? What do the small hanging pearls remind you of?

  • See Solomon Alexander Hart's painting The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law at the Synagogue in Leghorn, Italy. How is Zabari's crown different from those in the painting? What do they have in common?

  • Does this object look like a crown to you? What does it look like?

  • Do you think this "crown" is appropriate to decorate a Torah? Why or why not?


Omer Calendar

Omer Calendar

Saphyr

Tobi Kahn (American, b. 1952)
United States, 2002
  • Acrylic on wood
  • 27 1/2 x 22 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (69.9 x 56.5 x 24.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Aryeh and Raquel Rubin/Targum Shlishi Foundation, Nick Bunzl, Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation, Marvin I. Haas, and Daniel and Elizabeth Sawicki, Gifts; and Contemporary Judaica Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2004-22a-xx
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Omer Calendar

Saphyr

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Saphyr

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In Temple times, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot were marked with a grain offering known as the omer. Today, Jewish people "count the omer" each night during this period by saying a blessing and enumerating the day. The omer is a time of semi-mourning, during which many observant Jews refrain from cutting their hair, listening to music, or celebrating marriages. These customs of mourning are observed in remembrance of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 disciples who perished in a plague in the second century CE.

Tobi Kahn's sculptural work Saphyr was designed to assist in the omer-counting process. The user can start with all 49 pegs in the base and remove one for each day of the omer, or begin with an empty base and add one peg each day. Kahn's omer counter turns the activity of counting into a physical, tactile act. Each peg on his counter is unique, but they all fit together as a whole, their combined form suggesting the rooftops of a village. The dark color of the work reflects the mood of the omer period.

Discuss with students:

  • Describe this sculpture. What shapes do you see? What colors? How many pieces are there? What do you think it is made of?

  • This sculpture was made to be used as an omer counter. How do you think you would use it?

  • Each peg stands for one of the 49 days of the omer. Why do you think the artist made each peg a different shape? Why do you think he painted all the pegs the same color? What effect does this have?