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Beautiful curtain that covers the Torah Ark altar in the synagogue, produced in New York shortly before the outbreak of World War II and brought to Poland by Mr. Zvi, son Johoszua Lehr.

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The parochet — a curtain for an altar closet in a synagogue — was made of brown plush trimmed around with a faded, once golden now beige trim with fringes at the bottom, lined with cotton lining in a maroon colour. On the face side, appliqués and inscriptions are sawn. At the top, the crown of Torah — an appliqué made of white satin trimmed with a gold thread, adorned with golden (tarnished) metal sequins and small colour glass ornaments; on both sides of the crown, the Hebrew inscription: Keter Tora [Crown of Torah], embroidered with metal threads. Below the inscription, on both sides, there are three stars of metal threads with a small glass in the middle. In the centre of the curtain, there is a sawn-on appliqué in the form of Tables of the Law made of white satin edged with a trim, with commandments embroidered with a golden metal thread, flanked by two lions set antithetically, sewn of a golden fabric, partly embroidered with golden metal threads. Below the depiction, there is a sewn-on decorative twig with sequins. At the bottom of the parochet, there is the following Hebrew donation inscription ovally arranged, embroidered with golden metal threads:

“This is a gift of Tzvi, son of Johoshua Lehr. May his wife / 698 / Brajna, daughter of Moshe Aaron, rest in peace” [based on the translation into Polish by Przemysław Piekarski].

The number 698 means the year 1938. In the middle, between the lines of the inscription, the Star of David is embroidered with sequins, with a small colour glass ornament in the middle. Below the inscription, two plant twigs are embroidered with a golden metal thread, decorated with two calyx flowers made of sequins and small glass ornaments. At the bottom of the curtain, five parallel strips of a trim were sawn on horizontally, forming a trapezium. On the back, in the bottom right-hand corner, a label of the manufacturer was sawn on the lining, with an inscription in English and Hebrew. At the top of the back, there are sewn-on metal rings for hanging.

Elaborated by Anna Sadło-Ostafin (Irena and Mieczysław Mazaraki Museum in Chrzanów), © all rights reserved

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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...

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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.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Parochet — curtain that covers the Torah Ark

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Parochet — curtain that covers the Torah Ark

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