Obj. ID: 3450
Sacred and Ritual Objects Ha-ktanah Synagogue (Rabbi Pinchas Jana Synagogue) in Djerba - Tevah
To the main object: Ha-ktanah Synagogue (Rabbi Pinchas Jana Synagogue) in Djerba, Tunisia
The readers' desk is built in the centre of the synagogue, below the clerestorey, forming a centralised liturgical space (see: main photograph). The desk faces the ark and together with the main entrance creates a west-east axis.
The teivah is a free standing rectangular structure comprising a platform bordered by panels topped by a banister, which enclose an inner space. The space is reached from the west through a self-supporting ogee-arched gate, inscribed: “I have set the Lord always before me" (Ps. 16:8). The spandrels of the gate are decorated with lace-like scrolls, and are topped by a panel with a citation from Psalms, written in square filled Hebrew letters.
A rectangular table for reading the Torah is placed on the east side, and is set on top of a cupboard. It is covered with a carpet. Two small built chairs flank the table on either side (see: Remarks no. 1), while two additional chairs for the elders of the community, are set on both sides of the gate.
The surrounding banister and the cupboard’s façade are divided into rectangular panels enclosing geometrical patterns painted white with pink frames. A balustrade comprising small columns runs along the upper edge of the reader’s desk, whereas in front of the Torah ark, it has a higher arched construction.
Two identical menorah plaques flank the entrance gate. Additional plaques inscribed with prayers are placed above the table.
Two columns, with twisted white and blue stripes, rise from the two side chairs.
Three elongated benches are placed on the outer north, south and east sides of the teivah as part of the seating arrangement.
The side chairs are currently used as shelves for Torah cases which were taken out of the ark, when more than one pericope have to be read, during holidays and Sabbath. While one scroll is set on the table, the other is standing on the side chair. Such device resembles furniture generally used to undress the Torah from its textile garments before the reading (fig. 4). In the composition Mishneh Torah, Maimonides mentions furniture and names it "Chair for the Torah" (Hilkhot Tefilin, Mezuzah VeSefer Torah, ch. 10:4). It is surprising to find such a piece of furniture in a community which keeps the Torah within a wooden case, since there is no practical need to remove the case or to undress it before the reading. It is possible that the chairs are remnants to an old tradition, which no longer exists. And thus, the community attributed it to a new function. For a similar chair in Djerba and comparisons, see: Reader's desk, Rabbi Huri's Attic)
Structure: sawed, carved
Decoration: carved, painted
Width: 224 cm
Length: 234 cm