OBJECT OF THE MONTH - JULY - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Ori Resheff (b.1995) "Torah Crown" - Israel, 1996

Silver and painted copper - purchased 1997

B'nai B'rith Klutznick Collection at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion 


The Torah, the five books of Moses, is considered to be at the center of Jewish life.  The scroll on which the Torah is written becomes a beautifully hand-crafted piece of art.  All Torah scrolls are subject to the same strict rules concerning construction and text.  The Talmud teaches that one adorns God by designing, creating, and using beautiful artistic ceremonial objects in fulfilling the commandments. In the case of the Torah scroll, adornments include a cover or mantle, a breastplate, which is meant to mimic the breastplate the High Priest would wear in biblical times, a yad, or pointer to point to the text as it is being read, and a crown, or finials that rest on the two scroll handles at the top of the Torah. 

 Israeli silversmith Ori Resheff, in a unique design, merges the crown and the breastplate into a single unit.  The letters inscribed along the silver strips which make up the body of the piece are quotes from Psalms.  The entire piece is made up of 4 curved ovals of two layers each, one of silver, on top, and the other of blue patinaed copper on bottom.  A patina is the coloring of metal by oxidation or artistic design.  Resheff’s design is unique and modern, combining two ceremonial objects into a beautiful piece of work that defies traditional standards for Torah artwork.

Resheff, born in 1955, is a third generation silversmith from Tel Aviv.  Resheff followed the path of his grandfather, Michael Filmus, and his mother, Judith Filmus Resheff, creating beautiful pieces of silver Judaica.  Resheff went to on teach at the Bezalel Academy and his work can be found in museums and synagogues worldwide.

This unusual Torah Crown joins another Resheff piece in the collection of the Cincinnati Skirball Museum. The Elijah Cup made of gilt over silver and sterling silver was commissioned in 1993. Its purchase was made possible by a gift of Judith and Clarence Lapedes, Maureen Lynch, and Richard Lapedes to honor Ted Schwartz on his significant birthday.