December 19th, 2012
putting it on
“Nes Gadol Hayah Poh”a great miracle happened here! This timely phrase was recited by President Daniel Lehmann at a Chanukah celebration on December 11th to rededicate the building which houses the Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts.
150 members of the Hebrew College financial committee found themselves in serious debt, to the extent that that the school was put up for sale last year. Restructuring efforts paid off with the help of some substantial monetary gifts from generous contributors.
Beaming with joy while affixing mezuzahs on the doorposts of five rooms in the Conference Center in gratitude and thanksgiving, these folks feel that the rededication of their building echoes the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem so many years ago. May the miracles of the past come to life again for us too, one and all!
December 16th, 2012
a special gift
There exists a mezuzah in the world, the largest, most expensive (equal in price to a Sefer Torah), which is the one and only calligraphic entry in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records. The scribe is Avraham Borshevsky, an artist and calligrapher from Jerusalem, Israel.
He began his career as a secular, formidably talented student at the Leningrad Civil Engineering Institute where he became enamored with Hebrew language and letters. He went on to create many sacred works, choosing the mezuzah as the symbol for traditional Judaism based in the home.
Interestingly, religious people of other faiths recognize and appreciate the beauty of his works. For those who ‘have everything’ an authentic piece a treasure. He says that, “The work is even more than art. It brings light and the word of G-d into our lives.” Well, let it bring the light and the word of G-d into everyone’s life. May he go from strength to strength!
December 12th, 2012
quill and ink
Most people are aware that the halacha requires that each letter in a mezuzah be written perfectly. Also, it must not be written by erasing. For example, if in error the Sofer wrote a beis instead of a kof, he might be tempted to save time by erasing the foot of the beis so that the kof would remain. This however, is writing by erasing and the mezuzah would not be considered kosher.
This law also applies if a drop of ink splashes onto a letter. Even if the ink can easily be cleaned away leaving a letter intact, the law of writing by erasing may have been violated.
So what this all means is that even if a mezuzah looks fine, it might actually be posul. That is why mezuzahs need to be purchased from a certified scribe who has been tested and is aware of the many laws, and most importantly, has a fear of G-d. Who knew that what you can’t see on a parchment is as equally important as what you can. Who knew?
December 11th, 2012
The Talmud Gittin 45b states that Sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzah scrolls are considered kosher only when written by certain select groups of specially trained scribes. Women, as a category, are not mentioned to be among them. However, in 2003, Canadian born Aviel Barclay became the world’s first known ‘traditionally’ trained female sofer.
Since that time, there have been other women from Brazil, Israel, and the United States following the lead. This endeavor is known as the Women’s Torah Project. One of the scribes considers herself non-denominationally Jewish. I’m not exactly sure what this means and I’m not so sure this is a good thing. What do you think?
December 7th, 2012
In the Studio
Gary Rosenthal runs a suburban Washington, D.C. studio where handmade contemporary Judaica is crafted, especially in volume before the Chanukah season. Glass, copper, and steel are expertly manipulated in the making of dreidles, mezuzahs, and menorahs.
In the 1980’s, when the former Soviet Union agreed to let hundreds of ‘refuseniks’ out of the country, Rosenthal put several of them to work. After Hurricane Katrina, he sold menorah making kits to 20 synagogues around the country, had the congregants donate their work, and then drove to New Orleans where he gifted the menorahs to 500 Jewish families and threw them a Chanukah Party.
Today, among the workers are two autistic men, both 51 years old who don’t completely understand the significance of the objects they so carefully and lovingly craft. Rosenthal says, “We make art not just to make something. It is to bring people together.” This man puts his money where his mouth is!
December 2nd, 2012
Only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman can provide the answer, and it seems that at this time no one is volunteering. The question is, what is the purpose of Site 911, a new five story underground facility scheduled to be built as an Israeli Defense Force complex near Tel Aviv? Planners of this top secret project are taking bids from U.S. construction firms until December 3rd.
There is an extremely detailed description of all aspects of the mezuzahs the contractor is to provide. a sample: “They must be written in erasable ink on uncoated leather parchment. The mezuzahs shall be proof read by a computer at an authorized institution for mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof read for the form of the letters by a proof reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate. The mezuzah shall be supplied with aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening.” Read more »
November 27th, 2012
They say that there is a market for everything. What about an object that you and probably very few other people in the Jewish world have ever thought of. Well, the search for a free online Printable Mezuzah Scroll obviously has had some serious inquiries with intent to buy.
I am really impressed. This totally ludicrous item is not being sold, so far. An actual website which is an online mezuzah store is stipulating that they will not accommodate you if you desire this particular item. Read more »
November 18th, 2012
Rachel Kranzberg Miller claims that she has discovered a revolutionary fine silver material called Precious Metal Clay or PMC. Is this possible? Is this accurate? She is a metal artist who was named a finalist for the Niche Award, a national honor celebrating excellence and innovation in
American and Canadian fine crafts. The Mizel Jewish Museum in Denver, Colorado, showcases her brownstone Silver Mezuzah as part of their permanent collection.
Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very tiny particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water. It is used for making jewelry, beads, and small sculptures. After shaping the desired, soft, clay-like object by hand or using molds, it dries and can be fired in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or even on a gas stove. When the binder burns away, the metal remains. (albeit with some shrinkage). Read more »
November 16th, 2012
Father Ray Suriani recently delivered a sermon entitled, ‘Keeping our spiritual mezuzahs straight.’ Yes, you probably can already sniff out that something just isn’t going to be kosher. On November 4th in a church in Westerly, Rhode Island, he told about how one of his congregants pointed out that the steeple of their church became crooked as a result of hurricane Sandy.
So the preacher, in his homily, asked his flock, (and this is not the lead- in to a joke) “Is your mezuzah crooked like the cross on top of our church?” Read more »
November 7th, 2012
Synagogue in Corona Queens
On October 24th, the Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Corona, Queens officially rededicated the century old house of worship. Constructed in 1911, this stately building was made from wood, which over the course of time rotted and disintegrated.
Funding for the project took a decade, and restoration of the exterior took two years, but resulted in its obtaining a spot on the Register of Historic Places and is dedicated as a New York City Landmark.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall received a gift of a replica of the restored synagogue, including a mezuzah on its doors, because of her assistance in securing the funding. She said that this rededication has been a long time coming and, “I rejoice in this miracle in this new façade with my Jewish brothers and sisters.” Read more »