Copyright/attribution: Cyfarthfa Castle Museum
What do you see?
We can see a tall wooden stand. We can see it has a Star of David carved into it. Look closely, what do you see?
What do we know?
This is the lectern from the Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue. It is decorated with some Hebrew writing carved into it as well as a Magen David, or Star of David, which is a common Jewish symbol. Below the Star of David are the words ‘In Memoria. Rachel Sherman. Died 15 AB 5686’ This inscription means that this lectern was donated in memory of Rachel Sherman who died on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Ab in the year 5686, which in the English calendar is 1927.
This lectern was donated to Cyfarthfa Castle Museum by the Merthyr Tydfil Hebrew Congregation when the synagogue closed in 1983.
The Hebrew word ‘Amud’ means ‘pillar.’ It is the root of the word ‘Amidah’ which means ‘standing’ and refers to the main section of the daily prayer service which is chanted whilst standing. In many Yiddish and Hebrew traditions ‘Amud’ also refers to the synagogue lectern from where the prayers are read out loud during the service.
What do you wonder?
We might wonder who donated this lectern? We might wonder who read out the prayers? What do you wonder?
Why might prayer be important for many Jewish people?
Why might someone choose to donate something in memory of an individual who has died?