Tekiah (The Orchard Street Shul) 2009
Oil on canvas, 64"h x 38"w
This painting was initiated by an invitation
to participate in The Cultural Heritage
Artists Project. The subject of this project
was Congregation Beth Israel, known
locally as the Orchard Street Shul. It is the
last of the original immigrant synagogues
remaining in downtown New Haven,
Upon visiting the synagogue, I was drawn
to the magnificent Ark and it’s carvings.
Above the Ark, where one finds the carved
hands of a Kohen, a high priest, I recalled
images from childhood, in which members
of this priestly class came forward to chant
their blessing during the Yom Kippur
service, and I envisioned a Kohen standing
before the community. The painting
incorporates these memories with various
elements of the shul’s decorative motifs.
In the lower half I have painted a shofar,
a ram’s horn, one of the most familiar
symbols in Jewish life. The single blast of
the shofar, the “Tekiah,” is a straight
sound. Historically, it was sounded to
assemble the community, announce major
occasions, it is a battle cry and a call to