Torah ornaments such as this Torah breastplate (Hebrew: tas), and the Torah finials (Hebrew: rimonim) express the great respect and honor given to the Torah scroll. A Torah scroll is only uncovered for the reading in the synagogue, and is otherwise clothed in an often elaborately embroidered mantle. Indeed, the Torah is the divine revelation to the nation of Israel and is considered the word of God.
Silver, Gold, and Acrylic
The creator of these works of art, Kurt J. Matzdorf, is an artist known for his modern interpretations. He broke new ground not only in form, but also in his choice of materials. Alongside the classic materials of silver and gold, he used colored acrylic for his Judaica. Notwithstanding this contemporary approach, Matzdorf frequently incorporates traditional symbols as he does here. The nation of Israel has twelve tribes, each with its own emblem, such as a basket for the tribe of Levi. Matzdorf also used the symbol of a stylized pomegranate. The pomegranate symbolizes life and fertility in Judaism and the Hebrew word for the Torah finials stems from the Hebrew for pomegranate, rimon.
|Title||Torah Finials and Torah Shield|
|Artist||Kurt J. Matzdorf|
|Location and year of origin||New Paltz, New York 1981|
|Dimensions||30 x 10 cm and 30 x 19.5 x 0.5 cm|
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Selected Objects: Judaica Collection (6)
Our collection of ceremonial objects ranges widely from a valuable eighteenth-century Torah curtain donated by Formet and Moses Mendelssohn to contemporary ritual items to small kitchen supplies for following Jewish dietary laws.
Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman
What is unusual about this contemporary seder plate is its additional recess for an orange, marking a new custom which has found growing popularity among feminists in recent decades.
Traditionally, the Jewish festival of lights doesn’t involve presents. But like Christmas, Hanukkah too is increasingly commercialized, and there is already color-coded gift wrap in the US.
“No more kitchen confusion!” Three color-coded scrub brushes from the US make it easier to keep track of Jewish dietary rules.
This costume of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, should have been a top seller for Purim. But then a tragic accident occurred.
Torah Ornaments by Kurt Matzdorf
The artist Kurt J. Matzdorf is known for his modern interpretations. Alongside the classic materials of silver and gold, he used colored acrylic for his Judaica.
Torah Curtain Donated by the Mendelssohns
Moses and Fromet Mendelssohn commissioned a Torah curtain, probably using the fabric from Fromet's wedding dress, and donated it to a synagogue in Berlin in 1774–75.
Kurt J. Matzdorf (Artist)
Selected Objects and Highlights from the Collection
At a glance ...
Fine Arts Collection
Focal points, media, subjects, and what the artwork says about Jewish history
All About ...
The First Kindertransport
On our blog, we remember the first Kindertransport (Children's Transport) from 2 December 1938.