Synagogue Adornments

The Synagogue is a building or room for worship, study, and meeting. The Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) is central to the synagogue as it is a small chamber that houses the Torah(s), the holy scrolls, containing the first five books of the Old Testament. Special attention is paid to these accoutrements which are thoughtfully and beautifully clothed in rich fabrics.

Reversible Torah Mantel
High Holiday (white) side

(the crown design is a collaboration with Metal Artist Richard Bitterman

This mantle, formed by the metal sculptured crown, is a single entity allowing the fabric section to be removed from the structured adornment, and turned, making the front and back interchangeable, lie flat over the Torah between alliyot as a respectful covering, and reversing to the white bridal gown for the High Holy Days.

Our Torah mantle is symbolic of Jewish history characterized by reversals of fate, as depicted in the lives of Joseph, Esther, and the Maccabees.

The hand wrought letters of the crown shape the mantle just as Torah shapes our lives. “For out of Zion shall go forth the Law”, Isaiah 2.3.

The richly textured cinnamon silk conveys the protective tree bark surface of the aytz chiam with hidden spaces where fiber strands curl and penetrate the honeycomb of passages representing the layering of Jewish history and the ingathering of the Jewish people. Eighteen leaves adorn this side, three are molten pools of metal symbolizing the fervor of the Jewish people keeping Torah alive.

The priestly white quilted robe reveals the shofar’s echoing reverberations reaching deep inside ourselves. The undulating curved edge fastens with seven buttons signifying ‘shlaymut’ -completeness. A sheathe to house the yad, (another on the reverse side) has a feather embroidered on it symbolizing that the words of Torah are written with a quill. Placing it over the mouthpiece directs the breath of the scribe penning the words, entwining it with the breath of the shofar; both go to the heart of Kol Yisrael

*Inverse and Reverse was awarded First prize in the Art of the Torah Juried Invitational Exhibition.

It was chosen as First Place winner because of its adherence to the Theme of the Exhibition, obvious commitment and ability for excellence, and for it's originality and ubiquitousness, in being able to utilize the white satin, embroidered side for High Holy Days and the beautiful cinnamon side for the year-round.

Holocaust Torah Mantle

This mantle was created as a memorial to the Six Million and as a tribute to the Jews of Lostice, Czechoslovakia since it dresses a Torah from that city and is itself a survivor of the Holocaust.

The arms clothed in prison garb reach up in despair. The hands filled with yearning and tension symbolize their courage as they reach for G-d.

The Hebrew letters forming the words Am Yisrael Chai also reach up to G-d proclaiming that in spite of it all, “The People of Israel Live”. The rosebuds at the top symbolize life, hope and beauty affirming that our people will continue to be “..a light unto the nations...” -
copyright 1979

Holocaust Torah Mantle

For Purchase

This Mantle is a limited edition. It may be special ordered to fit your specific Torah.

Commissions taken, prices on request

Festival Mantles

Festival Mantles

The Aron Kodesh of Congregation Brith Sholom, Bethlehem, PA is adorned with these two sets of Elsa's Torah Mantles (these and the mantles below). There is a lightness to the hand-dyed silk set that is especially used for the festivals. The playful shapes of the appliqued letters and the dancing bouncing, tassels give a sense of joy, gladness and mirth that hopefully comes with the celebration of the holidays.

Commissions taken for Torah Mantles, prices on request

Torah Mantle Set

The blush-burgundy Torah mantle set at Congregation Brith Sholom, Bethlehem. PA, for daily and Shabbat have educational overtones. Each mantle has the name of one of the books of the Torah with the name of the individual parchiot that appear in that book. The Hebrew letters are texturally stitched in interlocking patterns and colors creating an aleph-bet of mystery.

Quilting lines emanate from the outlined shapes of the wording echoing the messages that are contained within.

Commissions taken, prices on request

Torah Mantle Set
Reading Table Cover

Gray Reading Table Cover

The theme of this shulchan cover is Jacob’s Ladder. The design represents the going forward into the light of reason, learning and knowledge. The steps spell out the quote from Mica, “...to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy G-d.”

NFS - Commissioned by children of Rabbi Emeritus to honor his retirement
Congregation Ohev Shalom, Wallingford, PA

Commissions taken, prices on request

Detail of Reading Table CoverDetail:
The vermicelli stitching around each of the letters raises the paddedfabric allowing the light to play off the curved undulating shapes.  Gray and silver threads were used for this adding to the subtlety of the design.

High Holy Day Table Cover High Holy Day Shulchan Cover

The embroidered Hebrew verse translates : “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” A strong design element in this Shulchan cover is the layering of fabric that has been pleated. It simulates the echoing and reverberations of the The stirring sounds of the shofar bringing us back to places inside ourselves......to the very root of our being.

There are three bands  symbolizing the three fold sounding of tekiah, teruah, tekiah and the three special sections of the Rosh Ha Shanah amidah.  Shards of gold and silver are a metaphor here as in the Malkhuyot section proclaiming God’s sovereignty over the universe.

The Hebrew characters of the verse are outlined making each letter empty conveying the message that the word ‘shofar’ means hollow---The Shofar is a hollow instrument that becomes important only a when a person’s breath enters it--That breath can move man to do wondrous things.  We can see ourselves at Rosh Ha Shanah  as the hollow shofar having the potential to fill it with many accomplishments and good deeds. 

Commissions taken, prices on request

For Congregation Ohev Shalom

Elsa designed the needlepoint scrim and organized the Sisterhood of the congregation to stitch the needlepoint panels. The group experience was quite special. The chuppah measures 12 feet across the front and 9 feet from front to back. When the synagogue bima was designed apparatus for the chuppah poles were put in place dictating this large size for the fabric chuppah structure. This large size helps accommodate the whole family making for a very warm and inclusive ceremony.

copyright 1998 - 2002 Elsa Wachs