IN TIME FOR THE HIGH HOLY DAYS
With the current health pandemic, and restrictions on businesses and group gatherings, our kitchen has become our classroom, our bathroom has become our hair salon, our basement has become our yoga studio, and our dining room has become our office. Where then, is our synagogue?
In truth, the rabbis recognized the sanctity of the Jewish home, calling it a “mikdash m’at,” a miniature sanctuary. After the destruction of the Temple, the Shabbat table, according to the rabbis, now represented the altar. Our current challenge is to create a sacred space at home while we are in front of our computers, on Zoom or FaceTime. What can help us create that spiritual mindset? Hanging this devotional piece of Judaic art can turn our work space into a worship space; by displaying this artwork behind users when on-screen, congregants and service leaders can create a home sanctuary.
Historically, many synagogues (and even some homes) had a decorative, calligraphic work on the wall called a Shiviti, taken from the first Hebrew word of the verse, “I always set ADONAI before me” (Ps. 16:8). This verse was typically written out in large letters, and embellished with other devotional verses that formed decorative shapes, written in micrography (tiny letters).
We have taken inspiration from this Shiviti tradition to craft a small poster that can be hung behind the Zoom participant as a background. The Hebrew verse from Exodus, “Make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (25:8) is accompanied by the English, “May this space be a sanctuary.” Beginning with each letter of the Hebrew Aleph-bet are 22 Hebrew words that represent the qualities to help create a sacred and spiritual space. We hope that the qualities—from happiness (osher) and blessing (bracha) to peace (shalom) and hope (tikvah)—remind us to focus on the spiritual attributes and practices that can keep us healthy and positive.
A miniature ornament at the top is adapted from the German scribe David bar Pesach’s illuminated Mahzor from the Dorot Jewish Division, The New York Public Library. (1301–1400). Shushan emek uyamah, kerovah for shaharit of Yom Kippur.
Want something else?
Contact us to commission a custom, one-of-a-kind Shiviti for your congregation, price TBD