Visual Tefilah (Prayer) (Animals) (Roadrunner)

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Many years ago, at Congregation Beth Shalom in Syracuse, I kind of thought that the ark looked like, well, a large console for a television. It  was modern, horizontal and made of wood. I liked the idea that the ark acts like a framing device, that Torah is like tele-vision. As for “Visual Tefilah,” that refers to the contemporary use of imaging technologies to animate the worship experience, to project the prayers on a screen above the bimah, accompanied with or without visual images. But Jewish  prayer was always more or less visually alive, both in terms of liturgical imagery and decorative art. Traditional Jewish synagogue decoration is rich with animal life: deer, lions, griffins, eagles, which gives me to think that maybe these 2 guys might look as good as almost anything else projected on either side of the ark. I think they’d offer a bright visual animation to the prayer service. Like the always threatened doe or rabbit, the  roadrunner stands in for knesset Yisrael, always already saved from disaster.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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