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Israeli artist Moshe Zabari's 2003-2004 series "Scripture as Sculpture" is on display at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion Museum this fall. Zabari's series in marble is inspired by the Torah - the Five Books of Moses, the "foundation stone" of Jewish culture. Zabari carved the five sculptures in Torano Carrara, Italy, and each one depicts a book of the Torah.
"Genesis" represents the moment when the divine light fused with unformed matter to begin the creation of the world, and is the theological understanding of the origin of the process of creation. "Exodus" shows an outstretched arm and fist, representing slavery and deliverance. "Leviticus," which, in the Torah, primarily addresses priests, depicts an altar. "Numbers" shows clouds and fire, inspired by the 40 years the Hebrews spent wandering in the desert. Finally, "Deuteronomy" has the passage Ha'azinu, recited by Moses who called for the heavens and the earth to act as eternal witnesses to God's words, carved in a cylindrical shape, resembling a Torah scroll.
Zabari says that throughout his career, he has "made numerous ornaments for the Torah, beautifying and enhancing its outer appearance." However, "by carving and chiseling away the external parts of the marble, I tried to reach the internal words and meaning of the Torah."
The HUC-JIR Museum exhibit also features several of Zabari's silver Judaica pieces, inspired by women of the Bible, as well as sculptures in mixed media (metals, stone, and wood), based on the Book of Revelations.
Zabari was born in Israel in 1935 and graduated from the Bezalel School of Arts in Jerusalem. He worked at the Jewish Museum in New York as the Tobe Pascher Workshop artist-in-residence. He currently lives and works in Jerusalem.