Shorashim of the Old City has since its inception in 1986 strived to be much more than a gift shop. As a Biblical Shop, we have endeavored to offer a wide range of gifts and art pieces that are inspired by the timeless verses of the Tanach (the Bible). Every Judaica item, every piece of jewelry and artwork, overflow with meaning.
Art and Judaism
The greatest artist in Jewish tradition was Betzalel the craftsman who built the artifacts of the Tabernacle in the desert.The intricate detail and breathtaking beauty were all tools in Mans attempt to bless and glorify the Divine. Jewish art is just that. A human attempt to bask in the beauty that surrounds us as a statement for gratitude for the blessings for G-d. That is the meaning of Betzalel’s name..art in the shadow of G-d.We have tried to present art that has acheived just that.
Textual Art of the Bible – MicroCalligraphy
The art form whose brushstrokes are the very words of the Bible
The preoccupation with G-d’s word goes back to the point of its utterance. It is no wonder that mankind focuses so intensely on G-d’s word in study and prayer. It is also not surprising that there is so much concentration on the letters of the Word- their hidden meanings, numerical symbolisms, and even the shape of each letter- in order to glean deeper understanding.
Therefore, when the art of micrography was developed over 700 years ago by the scholars of Spain, it seemed the perfect expression. What greater art form and what more eloquent medium could one choose, than the Word of G-d itself?
After the Jews suffered through the persecution of the Inquistion, they were banished from Spain in 1492 AD. Many of the exiled reached the Galilee and brought their most valuable possessions with them – their literature, their faith and the art of Micrography.
The Art of Blessing
There is nothing more uplifting than a blessing, nothing more lyrical than prayer. Our artists have attempted to present these scriptural blessings in a clothing of artistic vision and glorious color.We have gathered the works of artists who have attempted to meld their artistic vision with the power of the prayers.
Jewelry has been utilised as an attempt to beautify the individual and highlight beauty. Jewelry can also be personalised in such a way that it also becomes a statement that is personal and uniques. This can be done with the use of one’s name in hebrew or with the choice of a biblical verse that is a statement of one’s inner vision.
Jewelry can be a statement of external beauty or it can be a vehicle to express meaning in a beautiful way. Our array of Judaica Jewelry has attempted to display meaning and depth in beauty and grace.
Just as the Shabbat is an oppurtunity for allowing G-d to enter our homes , the Festivals offer an oppurtunity for us to enter into G-d’s house.It is for that reason that the word Simcha -Joy is used to describe the festivals, as opposed to Oneg-Contentment that is used to describe the Shabbat. The Festivals are essentially Moadim or appointed times of meeting the Divine presence . The historical and cultural reasons that surround these days are simply the outer color and fragrance of the main purpose of these days, to see and be seen by G-d’s Presence.
Pesach (Passover) begins on the night of the fifteenth day of the month of Nissan and lasts for eight days. This holiday commemorates the departure of the nation of Israel from Egypt but essentially signifies the beginning of the Jewish people as a people.Though it describes the physical freedom from slavery it essentioally describes the freedom from slavery from the things of Men and the choice to follow G-d.
Passover Seder Tray
The highlight of passover observance is the meal called the Seder ,or the Order.It is a unique and instructive ritual utilizing the text of the Haggada and 15 steps to highlight the move from physical and spiritual slavery to freedom.
The SEDER TRAY contains within it six of these fifteen symbols, wherein each symbol represents the duality between bondage and freedom.
Apart from the three MATZOT ( unleavened bread) which are placed either below the Seder Tray or beside it, the Seder Tray carries the major symbols of the festival.
- the Zroah or Shank Bone
- the Hard boiled Egg
- the Maror or bitter herbs
- the Hazeret or grated horseradish
- the Haroset a mixture of grated apples, nuts & wine
- the leafy vegetable
Hanukkah means “dedication,” and it commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Greek Overlords. The celebration also reaffirms the continuing struggle to educate our people towards the Light of G-d and tradition. The story of the little jug of oil that lasted for eight days and kept the reconsecrated menorah alight until new oil could be made is the basis for the lighting of the menorah . G-d’s light is the focus and the fervent hopeful desire to keep the light alive is the purpose.
The four Hebrew letters on the dreidle — nun, gimmel, hey, and Peh refers to the miracle of Hanukkah. They stand for the phrase “Nes gadol hayah poh,” ( A great miracle happened here).
It has been customary for children use the dreidels to compete for small prizes, like raisins , candy, or coins.
The letters are the instructions. Sspin the top and follow the instructions per the letter
Nun – Do nothing
Gimmel – Take everything from the pot
Hey -Take half of the pot
Pey – Put half of your stash into the pot.
Genesis tells us the following:
“In The Beginning …the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. And on the seventh day G-d finished the work which He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work which He had done. And G-d blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it G-d ceased from all the work of creation which He had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3)
As in all things we attempt in our walk in life to emulate and immitate G-d in all his actions.As G-d stopped creating on the seventh day, we cease any physical creation and engage in spiritual creation. We in essence fashion the shabbat out of physical time and thereby create a vessel for G-d’s Presence.
We are commanded to “Observe the Shabbat and keep it holy(Deuteronomy 5:12) ” and to “Remember the Shabbat and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8 ” ). In a very deep spiritual way we believe that both statements were said” in the same Divine breath”.Our decision to curtail all the activities of our secular existence and at the same time reach for the spiritual heights form the basis of this Divine ritual. A ritual that has become so integral in Jewish life. Our sages stated that just as the Jews have kept Shabbat , the Shabbat has kept the Jews.
Every major spiritual event is marked by a sanctification of the moment or the day.By so doing a spiritual oasis is carved out of the mundane length of time in our physical world. In many cases the sanctification of the day or moment is pronounced over a goblet of wine. One might wonder why wine is used if in fact wine can lead to actions that are the opposite of the Sanctification of G-d”s name.
Yet wine is used, exactly for that reason. Taking something that can lead away from G-dliness and grabbing hold of it and raising that to G-d in blessing achieves the greatest sanctification of G-d’s name .
When expressing the ten commandments , G-d makes two pronunciations “in the same breath”
Zachor: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord, . …… (Exodus 20:8-11)
Shamor: Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord,…( Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
Remember and reach for the Holiness and observe keep out the mundane.By so doing the house becomes a welcome place of light and spirituality . by so doing the house becomes a welcome home for G-d’s presence.
The lighting of the candles marks the point of transformation . A Jewish couple will light at least two candles, one for Zachor and one for Shamor . As their family grows there is also a custom of adding a candle for every new child.
Two portions or loaves of Challah bread that are placed on the tablein commemoration of the double portion of Mannah that the Isaelites recieved prior to the shabbat.The Manna represented G-d’s provision of blessing and sustenance. We are told that the dew covered the Manna and preserved it. Today we drape a Challah cover over the Challah loaves in commemoration of the miracle of the Dew covering. In addition we cover the bread , the ultimate staple of life to allow for the Blessing over wine that preceeds it.