MARLENE BURNS ABSTRACT PAINTINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Blessing Over the Shabbat Candles
"Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, who has kept us alive,
sustained us, and brought us to this season."
This image is an expression of the two thousand year old prayer
that is said to acknowledge and give thanks for something that happens
for the first time in any given year. It is also said at the beginning of holidays. .
The essence of Shehecheyanu is about time.
We recognize being brought to this moment in order to perform a mitzvah.
Time is symbolized by a trio of circular shapes representing the past, present and the future. The past, rich with experience, leads us to the present while
the present impacts and guides us into the future.The copper
circle symbolizes the present, the central theme of this prayer.
From this orb, praise to G-d emanates upward and outward, toward the
heavens. The color red represents G-d, with His kingdom in shades of purple.
Shimon HaTzaddik (Simeon the Just) believed that the world is sustained
by three things: Torah, worship and acts of loving kindness.
"Al sh’loshah devarim haolam omeid…”
The smaller circles on the diagonal, reference this formula for living,
insuring that we have a myriad of opportunities to say a Shehecheyanu!
The artist specifically chose the colors and design elements to magnify
the celebratory nature of this prayer as we embrace the special moment
and gratefully thank Adonai for bringing us to this time.
Most often used when offering congratulations or wishing good luck,
Mazal Tov has a deeper message. Mazal, means an ‘alignment of stars.’
Each of us is born under an astrological field. Mazal determines
personality, circumstances and potential…our destiny.
The Jewish people believe that we have the ability to transcend our destiny,
as referenced in the Torah, when G-d lifted Abraham above the stars.
Mazal also means a ’drip from above.’
Our tradition sees our mazal as the influence of the stars trickling down on us.
The mystics believe that our soul, our mazal, shines like a
brilliant star from above with only one ray inhabiting our bodies.
In this visual expression, the top of the painting shows the heavens filled
with shining stars trickling downward. The main orb, symbolizing our soul,
emits an orange ray into the largest circle, representing our physical body.
Destiny is represented by the silver bar traveling through the stars,
the upward movement expresses the concept of transcending one’s destiny.
The juxtaposition of the up and down movements is a key element of the design.
When we offer a Mazal Tov, we evoke energy of the cosmic field to channel blessings.
When heaven and earth meet and blessings abound, our destinies can be transcended.
“Blessed are You, O Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has chosen good prophets, and was pleased with their words of truth. Blessed are You, Lord, Who chooses Torah, Moses (His servant), Israel (His nation) and the prophets of truth and righteousness.”
This image is an expression of the blessings that are chanted before a selection
from the books of the prophets is shared at the Sabbath service. These
selections are thematically connected to the specific Torah portion of the week.
During our exiles, only the words of the prophets dared to be studied.
The darkness at the bottom of the painting personifies the exile with only
the prophetic words breaking through it. The words are represented by
eighteen streams of metallic color dripping down through the darkness.
The number of streams equals the numeric value for the word chai.
The words of the prophets gave our people life (chai) by keeping Judaism
alive during the times of exile without the benefit of our Torah to guide us.
The Haftarah trope marks that guide the chanter in proper cantillation,
are boldly painted in black against the red background. G-d is represented
by the vibrant red. The dramatic movement in this dynamic area serves as
a reminder that G-d did not forsake His people during the times of exiles.
The three circles represent the three things we acknowledge in
these Haftarah blessings that G-d has chosen for His people -
the Torah, Israel (the nation) and the prophets (including Moses).
Blessings of the Prophets' words
“And you shall love the Lord, your G-d, with all of your heart,
with all of your soul and with all of your resources. Let these matters which
I command you this day, be upon your heart. Teach them thoroughly
to your children and speak of them while you sit in your home,
while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise.
Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes.
And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.”
This image is an expression of the first paragraph of the Sh’ma,
instructing us to love G-d and how to go about fulfilling this directive.
The trope marks for proper cantillation (chanting) of V'Ahavtah,
are the basis for this prayer's design and can be seen
in the composition as the black right angle and the pair of dots.
Once again, the metallic copper color field represents
the heavenly realm from where these words of Torah originated.
The pattern along the bottom is the diagram for wrapping the phylacteries,
(tefillin) that are worn to bind one’s arm, as so directed in this first paragraph.
One of the names of G-d, Shaddai, is embodied in the wrappings
with the letter shin, the first letter of this name of G-d.
Shaddai is also used on the parchment upon which these words
are written and stored in a mezuzah case that is mounted on our doors,
fulfilling the directive to write these words upon our doorposts and gates.
The lines flowing between the trope marks allude to the fringe (tzitzit)
of the prayer shawl (tallit) with specific knotting and wrapping patterns.
In subsequent paragraphs, the instructions to wear these tzitzit
are explained as a reminder to perform G-d’s commandments.
"And you shall love..."
"Hear, O Israel"
“Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our G-d, the One and Only.
Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.”
This image is the expression of the watchwords of Judaism.
In the background, the red color field symbolizes G-d
and the metallic color field represents His heavenly realm.
The proper cantillation (chanting) of the first line is shown
by the trope marks in the line that separates the two color fields.
From the arc at the top, falls twelve drips, representing the twelve sons
of our patriarch, Jacob (Israel) from whom the twelve tribes originated.
These drips reference the Midrash story that explains
why the second line is not said out loud.
The Midrash tells us that when Israel was on his death bed,
he was surrounded by his sons. They announced,
“ Listen, father (Israel): the Lord is our G-d…” to assure their father
that they understood the true meaning of Judaism and would
maintain their allegiance to this basic tenet. It is said that Israel
responded by saying the second line in his weak and dying voice.
We emulate Israel’s words by saying them softly or silently.
The four orbs in shades of blue accentuate the following words:
Adonai, Eloheynu, Adonai, and Echad (Lord, our G-d, Lord, One).
One fringe of the tzitzit should be dyed a techeilet blue.
The shades of blue remind us that the exact color is not known today.
The single shaft of red (G-d) anchors the composition and design,
as G-d anchors our way of life.
KAVANAH JUDAIC COLLECTION
IMAGES AND TEXTS
Chanukah: Nes Gadol
A Great Miracle
This image is an expression of one High Holy Day Torah portion
that is chanted, telling the story of the binding of Isaac (the Akedah).
The Akedah was the tenth and final trial that G-d presented to Abraham.
The first trials are shown as imperfect orbs, building
momentum as they approach the red orb, the final trial.
The black column running through the center of the image represents
the moment of silence between the two words when the angels called out,
During this moment, Abraham was transformed from
having blind faith in G-d, to having perfect faith.
Abraham's lack of understanding G-d's will through
His request, transitioned into complete understanding.
The contrast of mind set is represented by the opposing sides of
the black column. The left side is filled with trials; the right side
shows Abraham's perfect faith, symbolized by the perfect circle.
The viewer is directed to this image of perfect faith through the
twisted lines of the ram's horn (shofar) as it references the ram
that was sacrificed in place of Abraham's son, as told in the Akedah.
Prayer of Thanks
Our Father, Our King
“Blessed are You, O Lord, our G-d and G-d of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs,
the great, mighty and awesome G-d, the supreme G-d Who bestows beneficial kindness and creates everything, Who recalls the kindnesses of the
forefathers and foremothers, and brings redemption to their children
for His namesake, with love. O King, Helper, Savior and Shield.
Blessed are You, O Lord, the Shield of Abraham and Sarah."
This image, laced with symbolism, is an expression of the opening
paragraph of the Amidah prayer. In it, we praise G-d, acknowledging
that He recalls that our forefathers and foremothers were
righteous and remembers their children with His divine love.
The symbols float in fields of metallic color, personifying G-d’s kingdom.
The choreography of this opening paragraph is included in this expression.
The red blocks moving upward from the center, illustrate the three steps
taken as we approach G-d at the beginning of the prayer.
The textured bows that frame the image on either side, represent the bows
twice taken when the words are read. The tree-like image of the bows are
reminiscent of the Tree of Life (Aytz Chayim) - one of the names for the Torah.
The four globes (Matriarchs) are positioned behind the
three patriarchal orbs. Each of these orbs is in deep shades of red,
to acknowledge G-d’s profound influence on each man.
The left orb is Abraham, filled with his ten trials. The central orb
is Isaac, epitomized by his binding from the story of Abraham’s final trial.
Jacob (Israel) is shown as the one from whom twelve tribes came forth.
Each band of color is specific to the appropriate tribe of Israel.
“May He who blessed our ancestors, bless and heal those who are ill.
May the Blessed, Holy One, be filled with compassion
for their health to be restored and their strength to be revived.
May G-d swiftly send a complete renewal of body and spirit
and let us say, Amen.”
This image is an expression of the healing prayer with an emphasis
on the energy transmitted between sender and receiver.
The purple orb represents the sender and the green shape
nestled in a maternal rocker, personifies the one in need of healing.
When a name is offered up for this prayer, the mother’s name
is added, to acknowledge the mother as nurturer.
The lines traveling between the two entities, exemplify the
energy and speed with which we ask for a complete recovery.
The healing manifests in the celestial realm,
as represented by the metallic color field.
G-d’s intervention is symbolized by the red streak.
The shades of lavender and greens were specifically chosen for
the Misheberach because of their healing and calming qualities.
One purpose of this powerful prayer is to petition G-d for a complete healing.
The artist represents this wholeness in healing through the repetitive use of circles.
"May G-d bless you and safeguard you.
May G-d illuminate His countenance for you
and be gracious to you.
May G-d turn His countenance to you
and establish peace for you."
Each of the fifteen Hebrew words of the priestly blessing has its own band of color
that moves from the split finger configuration of the hands upward to G-d.
G-d is always represented in red, as symbolized by the top of the painting and the
lines running through the Kohane's hands. The Kohanim are conduits
through which G-d's blessings are pronounced. Love flows both ways.
The space between the hands is in the shape of the letter yud, which is the first Hebrew letter
of each blessing. This space represents the energy and kavanah flowing through the Kohane
directly to G-d when the Kohane’s hands are positioned and these blessings are offered.
In addition, the numerical value of a yud is ten, representing the number of commandments.
The central yud directs us to the perfect silver circle, representing the whole state of His love.
The yud originates from the partial black circle at the base of the painting representing shalom.
There is a strong connection between G-d's love and shalom in that G-d seals these three blessings with shalom (the last word). The black circle is the basis from which the words flow.
Shalom is also the palm of the hands in position. Its significance lies in a mathematical equation of the 15 words. The first line has 3 words, the second has 5 and the last line has seven, with the last word being shalom. Each word is analogous to a knuckle in the hand. There are 14 knuckles in a hand .The 15th element is the palm and completes the hand by holding the fingers together.
The first line speaks of material prosperity. The second line refers to the spiritual blessings
of the Torah. The last line explains G-d's love and compassion for His people, through His forgiveness and shalom He grants us. Properly delivered, these priestly blessings will cause
G-d's countenance to shine, affording us a better understanding of His purpose in creation.
Additionally, the directional upward flow of the painting is also reminiscent of a flower blooming, a reminder of G-d's creations and perfection in nature. Red lines representing the Kohanim's love for G-d and His people that course through the fingers also form the letter shin, referencing one of G-d's names, Shaddai (Almighty). The near symmetry of the painting high- lights the authentic intent of the Kohane, allowing love and peace to flow through him to G-d.
“May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world
that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingshipin
your lifetimes and in your days and in the lifetimes of the entire family
of Israel, swiftly and soon. May His great name be blessed forever
and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised
and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed be He beyond any
blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world.
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and all
of Israel. He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace
upon us, and upon all Israel and now respond: Amen."
This image is an expression of the prayer said by mourners during the
mourning period and on the anniversary of a family member’s death.
It does not refer to our loved ones. It sanctifies G-d’s name and affirms
life. Our sages displayed wisdom in understanding that the repetition
of these ancient Aramaic words is an integral part of our healing process.
There are two Hebrew words hidden in this image,
chai (life) and one of G-d's names (double yud).
The ladder references the Kabbalistic meditation that uses seven words
starting with the letter vav. With the recitation, the mourner envisions a
ladder. As each vav word is said, a rung is climbed. carrying the soul of our
loved one straight to God. The flowing lines, wending their way through the ladder, show the path of the souls as they journey back to G-d. The fields
of metallic color represent the heavenly realm; the red represents G-d. As the
souls journey back to Adonai, they transform from partial circles to whole ones.
Rosh Hashanah Akedah
The Binding of Isaac
Passover: May Eretz Mitzrayim
From out of bondage...
Our Patriarchs and Matriarchs
“Blessed are You, O Lord, our G-d, King of the universe,
who creates the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Our G-d, who creates the species of fragrance.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Our G-d, who creates the illuminations of the fire.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Our G-d, King of the universe,
who separates between holy and secular, between light and darkness,
between Israel and the nations, between the 7th day and the 6 days of labor.
Blessed are You, O Lord, who separates between holy and secular.”
This image is an expression of the blessings of Havdallah that are
said at the conclusion of the Sabbath to acknowledge its ending.
Havdallah means separation. The holy day of rest that G-d gave us,
is separated from the rest of the secular work week.
The wine, the spices and the fire are blessed,
in addition to the acknowledgment of the separation.
A tri-wicked candle is used to represent fire. The image of the
candle is seen in the braided lines of blue. The braided design
is repeated as the fragrance from the spices flow up through
the heavenly realm to G-d, signified by the color red.
The shape of a wine goblet anchors the center of the painting just as
the Kiddush blessing over the wine is central to so many of our rituals.
The two circles represent our soul and the added soul
we receive on Shabbat to aid in our spiritual journey.
At Havdallah, we say goodbye to the second soul.
Haray At M'kudeshet Li
El Na Refa Na La
Psalm 51 is one of the penitential psalms that King David set to music.
All psalms (tehillim) praise the Lord. They have remained popular readings
throughout the ages because King David's themes were universal.
He expressed the burden of humanity in his sacred testimonies.
Psalm 51, one of the most famous psalms, speaks of repentance and recovery.
Verse 13 is part of the Selichot service:
"Cast me not away from Your Presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me."
Verse 17 is sung before the recitation of the Amidah:
"O Lord, open up my lips, that my mouth may declare Your Praise."
Verse 20 is sung as the Torah is removed from the ark:
"Do good in your favor unto Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem."
This image is an expression of the desire to have one's words of praise
reach Adonai through authentic intention of kavanah.
Going inward to find that authentic place is
contrasted by the outward thrust of those words.
The prayer shawl (tallit) with its specific knottings and wrappings,
represents the initial step of this process.
The explosion of red highlights the power of Hallelujah, as it is directed to G-d.
Further allusions are hidden in this painting referencing
the popular song entitled “Hallelujah."
As the lyrics suggest, David had a secret chord
of musical notes that he used to praise G-d.
The progression of these chords was the basis for the design composition.
The Lord is My Shepherd.
“We gratefully thank You, for it is You, Adonai, Our G-d and G-d of our
forefathers for all eternity; Rock of our lives, Shield of our salvation are You
from generation to generation. We shall thank you and relate Your praise -
for our souls that are entrusted to You; for Your miracles that are with us daily;
and for Your wonders in every season - evening, morning and afternoon.
The Beneficent One, for Your compassions were never exhausted, and the Compassionate One, for your kindnesses never ended -
always have we put our hope in You.”
Modim is one of the last blessings of the Amidah in which we give thanks.
The Amidah serves as the cornerstone of every service.
It was written in the 5th century B.C.E. to serve as a basic prayer
covering praise, petitions and thanks. The word modim has many meanings.
We are grateful, we thank, we praise, we bow, we surrender, we acknowledge.
All of these inferences are made when this blessing is offered.
The artistic expression of this prayer represents G-d as the color red.
He is above us and below us, as our Protector and foundation.
The red sides show that giving thanks to G-d frames the Jewish way of life.
The center turquoise ball represents the word modim,
with arches emanating from it that allude to its many meanings.
The larger ball shows how our thanks magnify our relationship with G-d.
The arches heading downward reference bowing and surrendering.
The upward movements capture the gratitude, acknowledgement, praise
and gratefulness that we experience when we recite this prayer of thanks.
Our Father our King, there is no other king but You.
Our Father our King, do with us for your name’s sake…
Our Father our King, hear our voice…
Our Father our King, inscribe us in the book of life.
Our Father our King, renew upon us a good year"
Penned by Rabbi Akivah nearly two thousand years ago, the first two
lines begina litany of supplications proclaimed for ten days from
Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur.
At the time, these words ended a drought in ancient Israel when no other petitions worked. In congregations and communities all over the world today, various forms of Avinu Malkeinu have become the most poignant of prayers said during the Jewish New Year.
This image visually presents the passion with which we hope our words will
reach God by using bold brush strokes and a hot color palette of oranges, red-oranges, reds and violets. The dripping of the paint
alludes to the rains that followed when these words were first spoken.
The two words that begin each line, our Father and our King,
highlight the concepts of our High Holy Day prayers. God is a forgiving parent as well as a critical and powerful sovereign. Two shapes
are used in this image to represent Abbah (father) and Melech (king).
They are juxtaposed as they wind their way upward toward Adonai.
The shape in the foreground shows the richness and depth
of this group of prayers as well as being reminiscent of a shofar,
(ram’s horn) a symbol of the New Year.
Feast of Lots
“Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe,
Who sanctifies us with His commandments and
has commanded us to kindle the light of Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe,
Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers and
foremothers in those days at this season."
This powerful image is an expression of Chanukah, the festival of lights,
celebrated for eight days. The menorah is our oldest symbol in Judaism
and is used as the inspiration for this holiday image. A variation of the seven
branched menorah is the Chanukiah, with eight branches and a shamash.
The light from the candles that are kindled each evening, helps to light
our way as we discover the true meaning of Chanukah. The central
column alludes to the power of the great miracles of Chanukah.
A small army of Maccabees overcame their enemy and restored
the Temple. One day's ration of oil lasted for the duration of the battle.
The branches of the Chanukiah emanate from that fiery core. They spread
out from the source and return to it. This dramatic movement emulates the
posture of our people as we celebrate and remember this moment in history.
"An accomplished woman, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls."
This image is an expression of a 3,000 year old hymn
outlining the all-encompassing virtues of a woman of valor.
The Book of Proverbs concludes with this 22 versed, acrostic poem.
The conclusion of the hymn states that a woman's deeds
are the ultimate testimony to her greatness.
Traditionally, Aishet Chayil is recited in Jewish homes
when Shabbat is welcomed on Friday evening.
This tribute is often interpreted as a metaphor for the Sabbath Queen,
the Torah, the Shechina (G-d's feminine aspect) and the soul.
The multi-layered orb represents the depth of a woman of valor
with her many accomplishments and abilities.
Pearls are found throughout the design to remind us
of the value of such a woman.
They also form the top of a crown, alluding to the Sabbath Queen
as well as the author, King Solomon.
The flowing lines remind us that life, strength and spirituality
flow through this source, a woman of valor.
In contrast to the lyrical movement, the vertical shafts in red
anchor the woman to the ultimate source, Adonai.
“A Psalm of David: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes
me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides still waters. He restores
my soul. He guides me in straight paths for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou
art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table
before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil,
my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
This psalm of comfort addresses the concept that G-d is always with us,
particularly during life’s most difficult times when our faith in the Creator
is challenged. This visual expression of the 23rd Psalm highlights the concept
that we are never alone. We are able to work through our darkest moments
by acknowledging G-d as our partner.
The image of a shepherd’s staff defines the painting’s predominant movement
cutting a strong diagonal through the green pastures, still waters and the valley
of the shadow of death. These elements are represented by the green and blue
lines and black bands flowing horizontally through the painting. By naming
these specifics, we are able to recognize that G-d provides us with comfort and
protection as we face our challenges in life. The double yud, as seen in many
prayer books as G-d’s name, is marked on the staff. The staff’s handle is
superimposed over a complete copper circle, reminding us that we are
complete in the realization that G-d is with us always. The top of the painting
in silver, exemplifies the light that emerges from our faith and trust in
G-d’s presence at all times. The Lord, as our shepherd, enables us to navigate
our trials, leading us back into the light. We are not left wanting.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who sanctifies us
with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Sabbath.”
This image is an expression of the blessing over lighting
the Shabbat candles, marking the beginning of the Sabbath.
Lighting candles is one of the three commandments specific to women,
as represented by the three flame-like orbs at the bottom of the painting.
In keeping with the feminine directive of this painting, the platinum orb
represents the feminine aspect of G-d, Shechina, that is always above us.
The copper orb is juxtaposed with the deep blue orb that symbolizes
the work week we have left behind, as we welcome the Sabbath.
The flames of the Sabbath candles wend their way
through the copper metallic orb that epitomizes the holy day
until it blends into G-d’s presence as represented by the color red.
The intense redness of the copper further alludes to
the presence of G-d and His ability to make us holy if we
keep this commandment and make Shabbat a day of rest.
Shabbat is the only ritual observance directed in the 10 Commandments.
“G-d, Please Heal Her, Please.”
In the Book of Numbers (Bamidbar), Moses beseeches G-d to heal his sister Miriam from Tza’arat. Miriam had rebelled against G-d’s decision and was punished with a skin disease.
With just five words comprised of eleven letters, we can sense the urgency in Moses’ request.
Pleas for wellness and recovery draw us into prayer more often than our need to offer up gratitude or praise to G-d. The urgency and crisis of illness makes our prayers authentic. Thousands of years later, we still offer up these ancient words in times of need.
The symbolism in this painting is centered around numbers.
Five words remind us of the five books of Torah. Five circles wend their way upwards, following the path our prayers should take to G-d. There are also five flame-like strokes, reminiscent of the burning bush.
The eleventh letter of the alphabet is kaf. The design emanates from the short kaf centered at the bottom of the canvas. Its stature highlights the brevity of the prayer while the dramatic movement symbolizes its power.
Kaf is also the first letter of the word kavanah: authentic intention of praying.
The yellow circle, nestled in the kaf, represents the sun. It is contrasted with the dark teal of the moon’s night sky. Our tradition follows a lunar calendar as opposed to a solar calendar. There is an eleven day difference between the two.
As shared from a Talmudic scholar, the eleven letters of this prayer, guide us to G-d’s eleven lettered name that He told Moses at the burning bush:
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, “I will be who I will be.”
With this concept of ever changing, ever becoming, we implore G-d to transform our loved ones as well, with a complete healing.
“Blessed are You, O Lord, Our G-d, King of the universe,
Who selected us from all the peoples and gave us His Torah,
Blessed are You, O Lord, Giver of the Torah.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Our G-d, King of the universe, who gave us
the Torah of truth and implanted eternal life within us.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Giver of the Torah."
This image is the expression of the blessings that frame the chanting of a
portion of Torah. The honor of saying these blessings is called an aliyah.
G-d's presence is the color red at the top of the painting with His influence directed downward in the drips and bands of color. The red bands
heading down to the red circle,represent the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai.
This revelation happened in the second book of Moses. Each of the
rectangles symbolizes one of the five books of Moses. Central to the
painting is the silhouette of the Torah in deep purple. Around this form, lines embrace the scroll, emulating how we embrace the Torah and
center our lives around its teachings.
Within this silhouette are the first and last letters of the Torah, bet and
lamed The red circles reference the gematria* of those letters.
The two dots are for the letter bet, with its numerical equivalent of two.
The trio of dots, with each dot representing ten, totals thirty for the lamed.
The first and last letters of the Torah form a larger lamed.
This letter signifies the strength of G-d's words for His people, Israel.
Pirke Avot ** states that thirty is the age of great strength.
** Ethics of Our Fathers
Woman of Valor
This image is an expression of the festive Jewish holiday called Purim. As told in the Megillat Esther, the story recounts a time of persecution of the Jews. Following the destruction of the first Temple in 423 B.C.E., Jews were exiled to Babylonia. Some 50 years later, Persia conquered Babylon and King Achashverosh established his kingdom in the city of Shushon. The villain in this story was Haman, who convinced the King that the Jews needed to be exterminated. Lots were drawn to decide the date of the annihilation. Working together, our heroes Mordechai and his niece Esther (who hid her Jewish identity and became the new Queen)) were able to save the Jews.
. When the Book of Esther is publicly chanted on the 14th day of the month of Adar, the crowd drowns out Haman’s name with the sound of groggers.
Purim, the Feast of Lots, celebrated with costumes, drinking and merriment, is one of our most joyous holidays. We make Hamanatashen cookies, to remind us of Haman’s triangular shaped hat. The central shape in the painting is a triangle that moves clockwise to form a Star of David, a symbol of our faith. The location of this story is alluded to with the Persian arched portal serving as a backdrop, as well as the decoration that frames the base of the design.
God is represented by the color red. Not only does He anchor the story,
He is woven through it to remind our people that God is always with us,
even during our exiles.
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“I am the Lord, your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt
to be your G-d.”
This is an expression of the message of Passover.
G-d took us from slavery to freedom through His prophet Moses
and the ten plagues brought upon the Egyptians.
The triangular shape of an Egyptian pyramid in the lower left corner
is juxtaposed with the copper triangular image of Mt. Sinai.
The plagues are represented as circles in the pyramid with the last plague
wending its way through the desert to the place of the revelation of Torah.
The mark of blood red washing down the canvas on the left,
represents what the Hebrew slaves were told to do to their doorposts
to protect their households in Egypt from the tenth and final plague.
With red representing G-d, the color forms the Hebrew letter shin,
the first letter of one of G-d's names, Shaddai: G-d Almighty.
Blue represents the greatest prophet, Moses, who led the slaves
out of Egypt and through the wilderness for forty years, as well.
The primary colors of red and blue allude to the primary forces in this
Passover story that were responsible for the Israelites becoming free men.
Passover is observed in the beginning (spring) of our Hebrew calendar.
The use of spring colors not only expresses the season but also the
renewal we experience as we examine our own personal enslavements.
Blessings Over the Torah
"With this ring you are consecrated to me
according to the teachings of Moses and the laws of Israel."
This image expresses the prayers that are said in a Jewish wedding ceremony.
The titled blessing is said during the first part, called Kedushin or Betrothal.
Mystically, the Kedushin is a reenactment of what had transpired
between G-d and the Israelites at Mt. Sinai with the revelation of Torah.
The intertwined silver rings represent two souls uniting in
marriage and are positioned against the backdrop of the mountain.
The reds and purples represent G-d and Moses respectively,
The ten red streams of color, alluding to the commandments, come
down from the mountain to connect G-d and Moses to the couple.
The circles at the bottom of the painting, symbolize the sheva berachot
(seven blessings) that are said in the second half of the ceremony, called Nisuin.
The bride circles her husband seven times during the ceremony.
The vibrant colors juxtaposed at the top of the painting, send the message
that a Jewish wedding is as multifaceted as a rich tapestry woven from
threads of religious, cultural, legal, historical and mystical significance.
The golden Shechina (feminine presence of Adonai)
shines brightly in the foreground.
“A song to the ascents.
I raise my eyes upon the mountains: whence will come my help?
My help is from G-d, Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to falter; your Guardian will not slumber.
Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel.
G-d is your Guardian: G-d is your protective Shade at your right hand.
By day the sun will not harm you, nor the moon at night.
G-d will protect you from every evil; G-d will guard your soul.
G-d will guard your departure and your arrival,
from this time and forever.”
This psalm is one of fifteen that were said during temple times when
people ascended the steps from the lower courtyard to the upper courtyard.
Psalm 121 is commonly called Eso Eynai.
According to Kabbalah, this psalm should be close to a new mother
to protect her and her baby as she goes through labor and delivery.
In this expression, the image of the cradled newborn is superimposed
over the image of a hamsa, resembling a hand with the thumb and
pinky finger shorter than the rest. This ancient amulet is considered to
be a talisman for good luck in many situations besides the birth of a child.
The umbilical cord, containing the life blood, wends its way
toward the heavens to connect with G-d, the source of all life.