Photography by Mei-Chun Jau.

The new Torah covers at Temple Emanu-El were commissioned from Jeannette Kuvin Oren, an internationally recognized textile Judaica artist, and arrived May 2018 in time for Shavuot, the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Created at the artist’s studios in Woodbridge, Conn., and Jerusalem, they are quilted from silk velvet and hand-dyed in colors that graduate from emerald green to ultramarine, says Connie Dufner, director of communications at Temple Emanu-El. The mantles on the two scrolls, when placed together, form a tree in gold Ultrasuede, and contain Hebrew verses selected by  clergy: “You Shall be Holy” and “When God Began to Create.”

The Torah covers are housed in a travertine and white oak ark in Stern Chapel, the centerpiece of the $38 million expansion and renovation at Temple Emanu-El that was completed in 2016, Dufner says. The ark doors are covered with textiles by New York artist Suzanne Tick, who created the weavings from discarded Mylar balloons collected along the beach. 

“To say that our holiest object will be housed in something decorated with material which was ‘washed up’— and that what seems washed up can be beautiful — goes to the heart of who we try to be as an open and compassionate community,” Rabbi David Stern said at the time of the opening of the chapel. 

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