Upon Thy Gates, The Elaine K. and Norman Winik Mezuzah Collection
arrives at the Museum at Eldridge Street from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education in Portland. Curated by Kenneth Helphand, the exhibition presents 73 mezuzahs collected by the Winiks that represent a wide range of styles, materials, and Jewish symbols.
The mezuzahs were created in places all over the world, including Israel, the United States, Denmark, England, Ethiopia, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Iran, Italy, Morocco, Poland, and Yemen and date from the late 18th to the 21st century.
A mezuzah (from the Hebrew word for doorpost) is a handwritten scroll containing a prayer which is placed inside a decorative case and affixed to a doorpost in the home. Among the oldest of Jewish traditions, mezuzahs are often associated with the concept of protection, and serve as a constant reminder of God and a symbol of one’s Jewish identity. This tradition and the title of the exhibition come from a mandate in the Torah to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions…and inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Norman Winik passed away in 2009 at age 87. Following Elaine’s death in 2017, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust received the collection so that it would be seen and appreciated by others.
During the run of the exhibition, the Museum at Eldridge Street will offer a series of related public programs. There will be an exhibition opening reception on Sunday, November 13 from 3PM – 5PM. On Sunday, December 11, Upon Thy Gates curator Kenneth Helphand will speak about the exhibition, the collecting decisions made by the Winiks and the design and iconography of the various mezuzahs included in the show.
Upon Thy Gates was produced by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education with generous support by the Andy Fund, established in loving memory of Andrea M. Bronfman by her children. Mounting of the show and related programs at the Museum at Eldridge Street are made possible, in part, by the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.