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Torah Ark

Torah Ark

Torah Ark from Adath Yeshurun Synagogue

Abraham Shulkin (American, b. Russia, 1852-1918)
Sioux City, Iowa, United States, 1899
  • Pinewood: hand-carved, openwork, stained, and painted
  • 125 x 96 x 30 in. (317.5 x 243.8 x 76.2 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Jewish Federation of Sioux City, JM 48-56a-s
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Torah Ark

Torah Ark from Adath Yeshurun Synagogue

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Torah Ark from Adath Yeshurun Synagogue

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CLOSE LOOKING / VISUAL ANALYSIS:

  • What materials were used to make this Torah ark? How do you think it was made? How do you think it feels to the touch?

  • What do you think this object was used for? What parts of the object make you think this? Does the object remind you of anything you have seen before?
  • What colors do you notice? What effect do the colors have on the way you respond to the piece?

  • Compare the bottom third of this object to the top two thirds. How are they different? What is the effect of this difference?

  • What shapes do you see on this ark? What designs do you see? What do you think they mean?




FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:

After giving students ample opportunity to examine this Torah ark, lead them in a discussion of related topics and themes:

  • Why would an immigrant retain the artistic styles of his or her homeland? What traditions does your family—or other families you know—retain from past generations? Do you think it is important to pass these traditions on to a person’s descendants? Why?

  • Do any of the symbols on this ark look familiar? What do you think they mean? Do you see anything that looks American?

  • What symbols have meaning to you?

  • What American traditions do you—or people you know—follow? How have you seen American and religious/ethnic traditions interact with each other?




RESEARCH TOPICS/CONTENT CONNECTIONS:

  • American Jewish Life in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries
  • The American Frontier in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
  • Ethnic Traditions
  • Folk Art