Synagogue hosts artist during dedication
Temple Beth Or will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sunday.
By Meredith Moss, Staff Writer 7:50 PM Friday, March 12, 2010
WASHINGTON TWP — If you’ve entered a Jewish home or house of worship, you may have noticed the mezuzah that hangs on the door post.
“A mezuzah is a piece of Jewish ritual art that adorns the front door and all of the interior doors of an observant Jewish home,” artist Gary Rosenthal explained. “It contains a prayer that reminds Jews of the covenant between man and God. Part of that prayer says ‘you shall remind yourself of the covenant when you enter a room.’ ”
Rosenthal, whose studio is in Maryland, is coming to town as an artist-in-residence for the 25th anniversary celebration and dedication of Temple Beth Or in Washington Twp. on Sunday, March 14. The building has been renovated over the past nine months, and now has a new multipurpose room, refurbished classrooms and a new exterior.
“It’s been usable, and we did some work on the sanctuary, but we had never made the building our own,” explains board member Marni Flagel, who co-chaired the fund drive for the renovation. The building was the former Fairhaven Church.
The reform congregation has 230 families. Its spiritual leader is Rabbi Judy Chessin. Under Rosenthal’s guidance, Beth Or families will spend the morning making art.
“We’ll be making mezuzot for our building and also for new Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel,” event chairwoman Mary Youra said. “This project was inspired by the Temple’s recent visit to Israel, where members visited an absorption center and met many recent Ethiopian arrivals.”
After a 1:30 p.m. formal dedication, the synagogue will host a trunk show and meet-the-artist for Rosenthal and his work. Project Judaica kits will be for sale.
Rosenthal, who has been sculpting in welded metals for more than 30 years, said he has been traveling throughout the country for the past decade to help communities create Jewish objects.
“It’s a mitzvah or good deed to beautify Jewish ritual,” he said. “After Hurricane Katrina, we had 1,000 people across the country making menorahs and dreidels (Hanukkah spinning tops) and they were donated to those people who had lost everything in the hurricane. Twenty-two communities were involved.”
The process uses colorful glass cut into small pieces, then tumbled in sand to get rid of sharp edges.
“We have a template for Sabbath candlesticks or a mezuzah, and people create a mosaic on it,” Rosenthal explained. “Then I bring it back to the glass studio and I fire it, integrate it with metal, and we fuse it into a single piece of glass.”
Event chairwoman Mary Youra said some of Rosenthal’s own glass mezuzah creations will be displayed on the day of the dedication. A special prayer is said when the mezuzah is placed on the door.
The dedication event and glass workshop are open to the public. Speakers include Rosenthal and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville.
Youra says the project offers a dynamic way for people of all ages to interact and create art that will complete the building and grace the homes of congregants.
“It’s a marvelous opportunity to reinforce Jewish values, beautify the commandment, give to others and repair the world, all within a creative fund raising experience.
How to go
What: 25th year anniversary celebration and dedication of Temple Beth Or
When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 14. A morning glass workshop with Gary Rosenthal will be held at 11:30 a.m. It’s open to the public.
Where: 5275 Marshall Road (corner of Rahn and Marshall roads) in Washington Twp.
More info: (937) 435-3400.