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Obj. ID: 10946
Jewish Architecture
  Ades Synagogue in Jerusalem - Heichal

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, 1982

The wooden Torah Ark, comprising three units, extends along the east wall of the synagogue. Each unit consists of an ark with two doors, flanked by wings.  The arks are topped by gables with wavy edges. 

The central unit is wider than the two others. Its wings stick out at 45-degree angles to the central door and form a trapezoidal protrusion into the space. The central ark is topped by the largest gable, which terminates with a circular apex. Additional gables surmount the central ark’s wings.

Two twisted columns flank the central ark. Each is supported by a vase and surmounted by a tower-shaped capital. The capital is topped by a spindle-shaped finial, which holds aloft a Star of David. The central gable is decorated with the Tables of the Covenant, inscribed with the first two words of each of the Ten Commandments: five on each side (Exodus 20 1-14). The third and the fourth Commandments are interchanged. The circular apex surmounts the central gable and bears radiating openwork surrounding the Tetragrammaton "יהוה" (YHVH) “the Lord” in the center.

Two inscriptions in square, filled letters are set on the top of the arks.

 Over the top of the central ark it reads:

"דע לפני מי אתה עומד לפני ממ''ה (מלך מלכי המלכים) הקב''הו (הקדוש ברוך הוא)" (שילוב של משנה, אבות ג א, ד כב; תלמוד בבלי, ברכות כח ע''ב)

“Know before whom you are standing: before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. (compilation of Mishnah, Avot 3:1, 4:22; B.T. Ber. 28b)

The second inscription begins over the top of the right ark and continues over the top of the left ark, it reads:

"וירא ויאמר מה נורא המקום הזה אין זה/ כי אם בית אלהים וזה שער השמים" (בראשית כח יז)

“And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other \ but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Gen.28:17, (K.J.))

 

The entire Torah ark is composed of five horizontal registers, which extend along the length of the ark. The lowest register is unadorned. Each one of four upper registers consists of rectangular panels bearing various floral and geometrical motifs within three concentric rectangular frames. An ivory star is inlaid in the center of each panel.

A band of a shubbak pattern runs along the upper register. A similar pattern frames the panels of the register under it.

The central ark’s doors are decorated differently from the side ark’s doors.

Each panel of the central doors has a rhombus in its center. The rhombuses on the three upper registers are framed by four bands which extend in four directions, creating a pivoting form. The bands of the second and the third registers from the bottom are oriented clockwise, while the bands of the upper register are set in the opposite direction. The panels of the third register from the bottom bear wider bands comprising a shubbak pattern.

The side ark’s doors are identical to each other in shape and decoration. The two lower registers are the same as the corresponding registers of the central ark’s doors. Each panel of the third register from the bottom depicts an arch within a rectangular frame. The arch consists of two ribbed doors mounted over two rosettes. The upper register bears panels with concentric squares.

 All the wings, except the outermost ones which are narrower, are decorated similarly. The lowest register of the central ark’s wings depicts three small arches supported by cylindrical tapering columns, while the side ark’s wings have only two arches. The panels of the second register from the bottom of all the wings, except the outermost ones, are decorated with an open eight-petalled flower, while the outermost  wings bear a rhombus with curved facets. The third register from the bottom depicts rhombuses within horizontal rectangles. An open flower with four onion-shaped petals appears in the center of the upper register’s panels.

The concentric rectangles, which frame all the panels, are decorated. The inner frame bears a geometrical pattern of two folded bands, forming rhombuses. The central one is decorated with a scrolled branch, while the outermost one has two variations: an interlaced foliate scroll at the doors and an interlaced geometrical motif decorated with a floral pattern at the wings. Both of such frames also flank the entire central ark. 

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Object Detail
Monument Setting
Unknown
Date
1901 (established), 1912-1913 (painted)
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Location
Israel | Jerusalem
| Nahlaot (Nahlat Zion: 1 Be’er Sheba street)
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
wood, ivory, mother - of – pearl, brass
Structure: sawed
Decoration: carved, inlaid
Bonding: hinged
Inscription: inlaid brass
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height: 3.36 m
Width: 7.54 m (overall), 1.26 m (central doors), 0.7 m (wing of the central doors), 2.55 m (side ark), 1.06 m (side doors), 0.7 m (outermost wing of the side doors), 0.79 m (inner wing of the side doors)
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program

The Torah Ark comprises three units. It is composed of horizontal registers, divided into rectangular panels. The panels are decorated with geometrical and floral motifs. 

Summary and Remarks

The Torah Ark is attached to the eastern wall that has three niches. The structure of the Ark, meaning three units, corresponds to the niches.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
According to the memories of the elders of the community there are two versions concerning the origin of the Torah Ark. It was either made in Damascus, Syria and brought to the synagogue or it was made in Palestine especially for the synagogue. The second version tells about a brother and a sister, who came especially from Damascus in order to build and to decorate the Ark.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
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Computer Reconstruction
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