Article - ( Festival Stamps 5733 (1972
This 5733 (1972) Festival series shows four of the forty-two Torah Arks brought over to Israel from Italy. The first to come hailed from Conegliano Veneto and was installed in the Italian Synagogue in Jerusalem. It was reproduced on an Israel stamp in 1953. The Arks that were transferred to Israel came from communities where no Jews now live, or where their numbers have dwindled, and they have found new homes in Jerusalem, Ayanot, Ashdod, Bene-Berak, Haifa, Netanyah, Bat Yam, Havvat ha-Shomer, Kerem be-Yavneh, Carmiel, Tel Aviv, Revahah, Ramat Gan and Shafir. The stamps portray Holy Arks from Ancona, Soragna, Padua, and Reggio Emilia.
This Ark originates from one of the Ancona synagogues which has long been closed. Gilded, and equipped with four doors, this Ark is noted for the delicacy of its carving and its dome. The Ten Commandments in traditionally abbreviated form appear on internal sides of the doors. From the style of lettering and decorations it is evident that the Ark was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century. A gift of Dr. Astorre Mayer of Milan, the Ark is now installed in the Istanbul Synagogue, one of the ancient Sephardi synagogues in the Old City of Jerusalem restored after Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War following their destruction during the Jordanian occupation.
SORAGNA (IN THE PARMA REGION)
When the Soragna community rebuilt its synagogue in 1856, it replaced and discarded a 17th-century Ark. This ancient Ark has now been placed in the synagogue of the Knesset at the request of former Knesset Speaker Kaddish Luz, who desired that it serve as a symbol of the bonds between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel.
The Ark, which is of relatively small dimensions, has two columns near its upper doors, while the lower doors are adorned with an unusually decorative motif. The inscription "Consecrated to the Lord" appears across the top of the Ark.
This Ark had been built for the Sephardi Synagogue of Padua in 1729, and the famous Moshe Haim Luzzatto composed seven hymns for the dedication service. Together with the Bimah, it was installed in the synagogue of Hechal Shlomo, seat of the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, in 1958. The Ark is six meters high. Its doors are beautifully carved and flanked by four columns with Corinthian capitals, topped by wood carvings in baroque style, providing a rich framework for the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. Over these tablets is the inscription "Know before Whom thou standest."
Founded in 1617, the Sephardi Synagogue of Padua closed its doors in 1892 when congregations according to the Italian, Sephardi and Ashkenazi rites merged on account of the paucity of their worshipers.
The Ark and other appurtenances from the Ashkenazi synagogue of Padua are now installed in the main synagogue of the Yad Eliahu Quarter of Tel Aviv.
The Ark from Reggio Emilia, built in 1756, was brought to Israel when the synagogue was damaged during World War II and converted into a warehouse. A work of art constructed in marble, it is 6.20 meters in height and 3.30 meters in width. Its gilled doors are flanked by two columns of colored marble and topped by elaborate decorations in Carrara marble. An inscription in the middle of this design gives the year of its construction as 5516 (1756). The Ark and Bimah, which is also of marble, have been installed in the synagogue at Kiryat Shmuel near Haifa.
TRANSFER OF THE ARKS TO ISRAEL
The transfer of these Arks and religious objects to Israel after they had ceased to serve their holy purpose in their original synagogues was effected through the good offices of Dr. S. U. Nahon of Jerusalem. The transfer was made possible by the generosity of the Jewish communities in Italy, the favorable attitude of the Italian authorities, and the assistance of the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The transfer of these Holy Arks to Israel is in some measure a fulfillment of the Talmudic dictum: "A day shall come when the Synagogues and the Houses of learning of the Diaspora will be reestablished in Eretz Yisrael" (Megilla 29).