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Torah Finials and Torah Shield

Kurt J. Matzdorf: Torah Finials and Torah Shield, New Paltz, New York, USA 1981
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

The Torah is the divine revelation to the nation of Israel and is considered the word of God. It is treated with great reverence and adorned with a covering of embroidered fabric and other decorative objects, and is only removed from the Torah cabinet for the reading in the synagogue. Torah adornments include the Torah shield (in Hebrew: tas) and the Torah finials (in Hebrew: rimonim). The creator of these works of art, Kurt J. Matzdorf, is an artist known for his modern interpretations. He breaks new ground not only in form, but also in his choice of materials: Alongside the classic materials of silver and gold, he uses colored acrylic for his ceremonial objects.

In spite of these contemporary variations, Matzdorf frequently incorporates traditional symbols as he does here. The nation of Israel has 12 tribes, each one of which has its own emblem, such as a basket for the tribe of Levi. Matzdorf also uses the symbol of a stylized pomegranate. The pomegranate symbolizes life and fertility in Judaism and the Hebrew term for the Torah finials stems from the Hebrew for pomegranate, rimonim.

Born in Stadtoldendorf in Lower Saxony in 1922, Kurt J. Matzdorf went to England on a children’s transport in 1939. He completed an art degree in London, but it was only after moving to the USA in 1949 that he discovered his love of gold and silversmithing. His works are modern interpretations of ritual synagogal objects and Judaica that he has crafted for numerous Jewish communities.

Object Details:
Kurt J. Matzdorf
Torah Finials
New Paltz, New York 1981
silver, acrylic
30 x 10 cm

Kurt J. Matzdorf
Torah Shield
New Paltz, New York, USA 1981
silver, acrylic
30 x 19,5 x 0,5 cm

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