Ki Mi Zion: The Yerushalayim Parochet

by Celia Brauer

In the fall of 1985, Hanna Tiferet Siegel asked me to create a parochet to fit on the portable wooden Aron Kodesh that Frank Segal had so beautifully hand-crafted. The parochet was to honor Susan Polsky Shamash and Lisa Polsky`s mother who had passed away a few months before. There was no definite request for a theme so I set about searching for an image to build on. After rereading the passage in the Tanach which instructs the wandering Israelites to "make a curtain of blue, purple and crimson yards and finely twisted linen," I had a vision of a twilight scene in Jerusalem where the shadows of the hills and streets were bathed in blues and purples and the gold of the setting sun was reflected off the domes and turrets of the Holy City.

My vision was turned into reality as I collected silk and polyester fabric in many shades of blue, purple and green and fashioned them into representative images of Jerusalem`s temples, gates, trees, and walls. The layers of building one on top of the other was to call attention to the hills in and around the city. I used golden threads to highlight the tops and edges of any structure that would have caught the glint of the setting sum. Soon the whole bottom right section of the parochet was filled with images from this beautiful and very holy city. But what would be appropriate to complement this scene on the top left hand corner? I put a river of many colored threads to divide the bottom right from the top left, and a menorah sparking its seven branches on the other side of the river. To complement the feeling of the Jews and their attachment to the holy city of Jerusalem, one has to also tell the story of the time they lived, in the Galut. For hundreds of years many Jews occupied the temperate lands of the continent north of Eretz Yisrael. For me, the rough brown earth and modest wooden homes of the shtetlach of Europe on the other side of that rich river and rich city complemented the parochet's story.

Ki Mi Zion tetze Torah, udvar Adonai mi Yerushalayim I lift up mine eyes... as they were ready to put the Torah back in the ark.

Now that Or Shalom has settled down in its own shul and there is a larger more permanent Aron Kodesh, the Yerushalayim parochet sits patiently in the mobile Aron Kodesh in the northwest corner of the sanctuary. It comes out to show its colors once again for Yom Tovim such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah. The colors of the parochet have not faded and neither has the feeling of the richness of Jerusalem and our cultures. For me to see the parochet again and again is like seeing an old friend. It was my pleasure to make a parochet for Or Shalom and I am comforted that it still continues to serve the shul and honour Aarona Mary Polsky.
 

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