The creation of the Ark in our sanctuary was spearheaded by the late Skip Fox, and designed in collaboration with Sedona artist and member Jessica Sierra, who then formed and executed the letters. The bronze letters forming the doors spell out “Shema Israel.” Visitors to the synagogue are awed by its beauty and uniqueness.
Our beautiful Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) was designed and created by artist, Susan Zalkind, a well-known Alabaster sculptor and one of JCSVV’s founding members. Prospecting all of her own stone, in search of the perfect piece, Susan pried the stone that was to become the Ner Tamid from a cliff face in Utah. Back home at her shop, she knew it was the right one for this holy obligation. The holy letters Yud, Hey, Vav, Hey are engraved on the coral colored Alabaster, which is carved to represent the flame, perhaps of the burning bush or the original creation of light. It shines as a beacon in the sanctuary windows, and is visible, not only within the sanctuary, but also as one approaches the entrance to our synagogue from the outside.
The Ten Commandments were designed and hand-carved by JCSVV member Mark Kann, and donated to the synagogue in loving memory of his wife, Hershelle C. Kann, on February 9, 2011. The tablets were carved from two slabs of a red velvet mesquite tree that had succumbed to old age after living for many hundreds of years in the Arizona dessert. The tree was culled for lumber and cut into slabs. These two pieces of the tree were purchased in Cottonwood in 2006. The planning and execution of the work took five years.
In the selection of these pieces of wood, Mark saw an image of the wood of the burning bush. Artistically he conceived of the letters being impressed into the wood through the action of divine lightning. As you look at the wood closely, you will be able to see the fire and insect damage providing a sense of billowing smoke in the shades of red, black and brown as the wood aged over time.
Mark chose traditional Hebrew lettering for the carved words, impregnating each letter with black to evoke lightning from the clouds burning the works into the wood.
The Tree of Life in our lobby is a symbol of many of Judaism’s traditions and has Kabbalistic Meanings. It was created and cast in bronze by artist John Soderberg, and donated to the congregation by Milt and Clare Small. The Torah states that “It [the Torah] is a Tree of Life to all who hold it fast and all who cling to it will find happiness.”
In Kabbalah, the Tree of Life represents the ten emanations or physical and spiritual attributes through which the Divine Will reveals itself and feeds the continuous creation of the physical and metaphysical world. Divine Will created the world with 10 Sefirot. The 10 pomegranates on the tree represent the 10 Sefirot. They are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge and seven emotions: kindness, strength, beauty/compassion, eternity/victory, surrender, connecting to the task, and kingship.
The 12 roots of the Tree signify the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 gemstones in between the roots the gems on the Breast Plate of the High Priest. The main tree branches form two letters: the right tree branch, “Ayin”. The left tree branch, “Tzadi Sofit”. Together they create the word “Eitz” for Tree. There are “613 Laws in the Torah.” There are “613 “Leaves on the Tree of Life and “613 Seeds in a Pomegranate Fruit.”
The unique seven-branched Menorah beside the entry to the synagogue was designed and built by Skip Fox. Skip created it as testament to his grandparents, to whom it is dedicated.
This is a shiviti, placed on the eastern wall of a synagogue or home to indicate the direction of prayer. The Hebrew words inscribed on the star read:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad
Hear O Israel, our God is One
Shiviti Adonai l’negdi tamid
Star of David by Artist, John M. Sodorberg, Ph.D. Donated by Susan Dolin & Harold Streem and Clare & Milt Small.