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Friday, December 23, 2011

Third Candle: On Gates and Grates

"Window Grate, Nachlaot Synagogue" c. 2011 by Heddy Abramowitz
With so many religious institutions, schools, places of learning and prayer,  it is no surprise to see the motif of the menora or chanukiah incorporated into decorative  elements all over Jerusalem, often with a utilitarian function. Most homes and public-use buildings have metal grates and bars on windows and doorways for security - and these metal works, in some effort at creativity, go beyond the geometric, using symbols in their designs, such as the menora or chanukiah.

"Menora  Window Grate and Magen David Window"  c. 2011 by Heddy Abramowitz

It makes sense that the Chanukah theme is incorporated so frequently. The word Chanukah really means dedication - it was named for the act of re-dedicating the Temple. In modern Hebrew, when one has a house-warming party, we call it a Chanukat-haBayit, or dedication of the home (or place of another sort- such as synagogue, yeshiva, etc.). Very appropriate, then, to have a Chanukah pattern in a new structure or a newly-purposed place.

"Geula Synagogue Gate"  c. 2011 by Heddy Abramowitz
Some of these uses, while exuberant in their zeal, vary in their aesthetic success.

"Women's Seminary Gate, the Jewish Quarter" c. 2011 by Heddy Abramowitz
And then there are others, which I think attain the level of a kind of folk art, their wrought metal forms achieving something quite beautiful in their naive formulations.

                 "Gate with Menora and Quote: If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem, Let My Right Hand Lose Its Cunning"
c. 2011 by Heddy Abramowitz

And,  this final example harkens to an earlier time and the work of an artisan with a sense for simplicity.

"Nachlaot Synagogue Window and Grate"  c.  2011 by Heddy Abramowitz


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