Parochet and pelmet
The custom of hanging a parochet on the Aron Kodesh door (the Torah Ark in the synagogue, in which the Torah scrolls are kept) goes back to Biblical times. In the Temple of Jerusalem there was a similar curtain separating the Holy place from the Holy of Holies. In this place, the Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed was stored. The cover of the Ark was decorated with gold cherubim, between which, according to tradition, the Divine Presence of God called Shekinah was settled. It was and still is separated and protected by the parochet. In the times of the Temple of Jerusalem only the High Priest could enter it and only once a year.
The colours of the parochet can be freely chosen. There are, however, two exceptions: on Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year and on Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement, only a white colour is allowed. On these days devout Jews purify themselves of their sins. The white colour symbolises spiritual purity and therefore white clothes should be worn.
The role of the Biblical gold cover of the Ark of the Covenant is played by the pelmet, also called “a cornice board“, which is placed above the Aron Kodesh. The pelmet and the Aron Kodesh frequently create a compositional whole. You should see the pelmet belonging to the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków and compare the symbolism of these two exhibits on our website.
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