Friday, March 12, 2010

Reflecting on the shtender

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Perhaps in anticipation of "Weekend Reflections" this old carving was displayed with a mirror behind it at the Jewish Art Museum in Jerusalem's Hechal Shlomo.

The traditional Jewish prayer and study lectern or podium is called by its better Yiddish name: shtender.
Like most Yiddish words, it does not translate well.
When you are praying and studying the holy books all day and half of the night, like the yeshiva "seminarians" do, you really need a shtender.
When you get tired of sitting, you stand; when you get tired of standing, you sit.
The shtender rocks with you. The shtender leans with you. Or, it stands firm when it has to.
It has room inside and on top to hold your many books.
There's even a footrest.
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Soon, just before sunset, it will be time to light the candles and welcome the Sabbath.
The old wooden Jew from long ago joins me in wishing you Shabbat shalom, Sabbath peace.
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Update: I went back to the museum this week and was surprised to see that the man at the shtender was a lot smaller than I had remembered him from my first visit. Funny how things "grow on you."
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UPDATE Jan. 2015:  Everything you ever wanted to know about shtenders at the You're Not Crazy blog.
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22 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Dina, for this beautiful post and explanation of this statue.Shabbat shalom.

Virginia said...

A lovely piece. And the candles reminds me I have a lovely shot of some candelabra from the temple!
V

Leif Hagen said...

What a great wooden piece of art and history and tradition! And I guess maybe at least one person has fallen asleep with his head on the "desk."

Clytie said...

Great reflection and explanation. I learned a lot here.

Jew Wishes said...

What a lovely photo...poignant.

Shabbat Shalom, Dina.

Carol said...

What a great reflection post. I enjoyed this information.

James said...

That's an amazing carving. The detaials are beautiful. I'm glad that it was in front of mirror. :)

Suzanne said...

Shabbat Shalom Dina, I lit candles this evening. And, I think I would like to have a schtender.

Cloudia said...

Shabbat Shalom & Aloha my Friend!


Comfort Spiral

Louis la Vache said...

What a fine old carving, Dina. Nice tie-in of history with the Weekend Reflections meme.

Shabbat, shalom.

Matty said...

The craftsmanship is great, and I even learned something new too.

Hilda said...

Thank you very much for this description and explanation of the shtender, Dina. A lovely sculpture for the lesson too.

May you have a blessed and peaceful weekend.

RuneE said...

I must admit that it reminds me of some of the old-style school desks that one could still see from time to time when I was a boy. Those those were usually "decorated" in a less pious way by the former pupils...

Pietro said...

A very informative post, with a beautiful reflection image. I think it's so extraordinary to light candles to express a spiritual or religious feeling.
Shabbat Shalom, Dina.

Rob and Mandy said...

Wish I had one at work!

VP said...

A wonderful carving and a beautiful and interesting post with a touching finale.

√ Abraham said...

Those kinds of craftsmen who carved things like this are a disappeared breed. I know there are a few around but not like in the old days. It is a beautiful thing to see.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

I LOVE those words that don't exactly translate. That, my dear, is CULTURE at its best.

Jan
GDP

susieofarabia said...

Always so interesting! I wonder how many shtenders have actually fallen over with someone having fallen asleep at them since they sound like they are a bit unstable!

mbkatc230 said...

Such a beautiful carving and I love the mirror reflection. Thanks for the explanation, I love coming to your blog and learning something new every week. Kathy

Nefertiti said...

tres beau et expressif ;O)

Doreen said...

perfect reflection. interesting commentary also.