Shalom Everyone!

I just received the following note from the NC Museum of Art, which I thought would be of interest to many of you.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: N.C. Museum of Art Reinstalls Judaic Art Gallery
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 14:38:48 -0400
From: Alesia DiCosola <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>


For Immediate Release

June 26, 2006


Media information: Alesia DiCosola, (919) 664-6795



N.C. Museum of Art Reinstalls Judaic Art Gallery

Renovated space displays important ceremonial objects including new acquisitions



RALEIGH, N.C.The North Carolina Museum of Art’s Judaic Art Gallery will reopen Sunday, July 9, after its first extensive renovation in 10 years.  The renovation showcases recent acquisitions and provides new and updated interpretive labels.


“The Museum periodically refreshes all of our galleries in order to introduce new thinking in how we display and interpret the art,” said Museum Director Lawrence Wheeler. “With the Judaic Art Gallery, we also wanted to show off the many new objects acquired in the past three years.”


One of the most spectacular new objects is a large silver and gilt Torah Case (or Tik) made in China for a community of Baghdadi Jews in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India.  Baghdadi Jews immigrated to South Asia from Iraq and Persia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and became great merchants and traders with business interests from Lebanon, China, and Japan. In Sephardic and Eastern Jewish communities, the Torah scroll is housed in a decorative case. According to the dedicatory inscription, it was commissioned by a rabbi in 1887 as a memorial to his wife. The case is that it is one of a very small group of Jewish ceremonial objects known to have been made by Chinese artisans. The case was originally placed in the Magen David Synagogue in Mumbai and was later transferred to a Baghdadi synagogue in Israel. The Museum purchased in June it with funds provided by the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery.


“This case is an exceptionally powerful work of art, both aesthetically and historically” explained John Coffey, deputy director for art. “It is the ultimate Diaspora object.”


The Museum recently acquired other ceremonial objects related to the Torah.  The oldest is a rare late 18th-century silver Torah Shield from Hamburg, Germany. In Central and Eastern European Jewish communities, a decorative shield, sometimes called a breastplate, is traditionally hung from the staves of a draped Torah scroll.  This elegant Torah Shield is the first piece of German silver to enter the collection.  It features an imperial crown, symbolic of the majesty of the Divine Law, and the twin columns Joachim and Boaz that once flanked the Temple in Jerusalem.


Not all of the objects in the Judaic Art Gallery are old. One of the most striking objects in the gallery is a modernist Torah Crown by Israeli artist Moshe Zabari. Inspired by the space race and Sputnik, it consists of meandering loops of forged silver like the sky traces of jets or rockets. Pearls, like stars or planets, dangle in the voids. To complement this “cosmic crown”, the Museum commissioned Zabari to design and make a Torah Shield and Pointer.  Funding for the commission was provided by Gale and Steve Sons of Raleigh.


Other important additions to the collection are gifts from Greensboro, North Carolina families.  One is an imposing tower-shaped spice container used in the Havdalah ceremony at the close of the Sabbath.  Unusually tall and finely crafted of silver filigree, this spice container is exemplary of the ceremonial objects produced for the Jewish communities in Galicia, a province of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Shavitz. Smaller but no less exquisite is a spice container from the Jerusalem’s famed Bezalel Workshop, the first modern design school for Jewish ritual art.  The family of Albert Jacobson donated the container.


The Museum also acquired an important Hanukkah Lamp (Hanukkiah), made in Warsaw, Poland in 1854.  Like most finely crafted Judaica, the lamp was made by a non-Jewish silversmith for an affluent urban Jewish family.  Adopting the traditional “bench-type” of hanukkiah for the home, this lamp is handsomely decorated with a basket brimming with fruits and flowers—a wish for abundance and prosperity.  The lamp is the gift of Zelda Bernard. 


Grander in scale is the Standing Hanukkah Lamp, one of the masterpieces of Ze’ev Raban, the foremost designer at the early Bezalel Workshop. Raban and other Bezalel artists created a self-consciously “Hebrew Style,” rooted in the romantic belief that the artistic traditions of the Islamic and local Jewish communities were closest to the forms and styles of art of the ancient Hebrews. The lamp takes the form of the Menorah, the seven-branched lamp stand of the ancient Jewish Temple. However, two additional branches have been added to allow for the required eight candles plus the central server candle. The lamp was purchased in Israel, partly with funds provided by Stanley Fox and JoAnn Pizer-Fox of Oxford and Raleigh.


“More than an astonishing work of art, this lamp beautifully summarizes Jewish history and aspiration in the early 20th century,” said Coffey.  


All of the recent acquisitions were made possible through the work of the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery, a volunteer support group affiliated with the Museum.


“None of these magnificent new objects would have been possible without the commitment and support of the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery,” said Wheeler. “We owe this group and its many donors a loud round of applause.”



About the Judaic Art Collection


The Judaic Art Gallery, founded by Dr. Abram Kanof, displays the ceremonial art of the Jewish people. The ritual objects, often made of precious metals and embellished with great artistry, beautify the ceremonies that define Jewish life and worship. Visitors may tour the gallery during Museum hours or arrange for a guided tour with one of the Museum’s trained docents. Guided tours should be scheduled at least three weeks in advance by calling (919) 664-6748.


For more information on the Judaic Art Gallery or the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery, call (919) 664-6759.  For more information on the Museum, visit or call (919) 839-NCMA (6262).





The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier visual arts museums in the Southeast. The Museum uses its collection to provide educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The Museum offers a series of changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.


The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Michael F. Easley, governor, and an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, Lisbeth C. Evans, secretary. Museum hours are Tuesday–Thursday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Monday. Admission is free. For information call (919) 839-NCMA (6262), or visit the NCMA’s Web site at




Alesia DiCosola

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

North Carolina Museum of Art


2110 Blue Ridge Road

Raleigh, NC 27607


Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art
Selections from the Collection of Julia J. Norrell
May 7–July 16, 2006


Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency. E-mail correspondence to and from me is subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.


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