"The Eldridge Street synagogue…is an impressive representation of traditional Judaism, modified perforce by the spirit of the time and surroundings."

Century Magazine, 1892

in-the-synagogue

In the Synagogue

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Ark Curtain (Parochet)

c. 1885
Red velvet with embroidery and velvet appliqués
80 x 72.75 inches

The Torah crown, Ten Commandment tablets and standing lions that are embroidered by machine onto this heavy red velvet parochet are typical decorations found on Torah mantles,ark curtains and other religious decorations used in Eastern European synagogues. What is unusual about this curtain are the appliqués—a repeated pattern of flowers and leaves made of embroidered velvet—that have been sewn across its lower edge. A tree of life or simple branches are more common decorations, suggesting that perhaps this curtain had once been a household drapery that was donated for use in the synagogue.

Its somewhat cryptic Hebrew inscription reads simply: “Holy Congregation of the Israel Synagogue ARA, 1885.”

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