"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


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Carved Lions Ark Decoration

c. 1910
Carved and painted wood
26 x 58.75 x 8 inches

The artisan who carved this panel brought great spirit to the task of making a traditional ark decoration, which features lions standing on either side of the Ten Commandment tablets. Lower East Side wood carvers were known to also make carousel horses, which may explain the animated expressions given to the lions on this plaque, even if they were created for a more solemn purpose.

Represented at the base of this panel are the hands of a Cohen, a Jewish priest, who raises his hands outward to deliver a blessing during services. This hand position may be familiar to fans of Star Trek. In his autobiography, Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock, said that he based the one-handed Vulcan salute on this gesture, which he saw as a child attending an Orthodox synagogue with his grandfather. Each time he used this greeting, Spock would say a blessing of his own: “Live long and prosper.”

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