Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ephraim Moses Lilien

Illustrator and photographer Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925) "father of Jewish bookplates," created ex libris with distinctive Jewish motifs. He was born in Galicia but settled in Germany in 1899. He illustrated for the Zionist movement and was the one took the most famous photo of Herzl on the balcony of his hotel. Lilien traveled to Jerusalem in 1905 and helped found the first Jewish art Academy, Bezalel.


One of his works includes four large Stars of David on a circle made of many small ones. In the center there are palms representing the Kohanim (priest) blessing.


Another work is "From Ghetto to Zion" postcard, which was chosen at the Fifth Zionist Congress in 1901 in Bazel to represent the movement's message. The work shows a white angel pointing for a ghetto Jew (who is sitting bent circled with barbed wire) towards a farmer cultivating the soil of Israel; at the bottom of the work appear two Stars of David and words from the book of prayer


"And may our eyes behold when thou returnest unto Zion in compassion"  


On the tab of a stamp made of this postcard there's the word Zion in a Star of David creating an un ambiguous identification between the word (Zion) and the Shape (Star of David).


The Seder Plate

Today I posted the following note to the editor of the "Star of David" page on Wikipedia:


You wrote: "However, the sign [Star of David] is nowhere to be found in classical kabbalistic texts themselves, such as the Zohar, the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria and the like".


I read on G.S. Oegema's book (Realms of Judaism, The history of the Shield of David, the birth of a symbol, Peter Lang, Germany, 1996, ISBN 3-631-30192-8) that "Isaac Luria provided the Shield of David with a further mystical meaning. In his book "Etz Hachayim" he teaches that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram: above the three sefirot "Crown "Wisdom" and "Insight", below the other seven".

"The Stone which the Builders Refused"

Today I visited Dr. Zeev Goldman, 101 years old, in his apartment in Jerusalem. He invited me to talk about his research on the Star of David and lent me Dr. G.S. Oegema book, Realms of Judaism, The history of the Shield of David, the birth of a symbol, Peter Lang, Germany, 1996, ISBN 3-631-30192-8).


In the acknowledgments Dr. G.S. Oegema tells about a touring exhibition to commemorate the introduction of the yellow badge in Europe 50 years earlier. The exhibition traveled to many German cities from 1991 and was meant to improve understanding between Jews and Germans. Dr. G.S. Oegema was asked to prepare this exhibition and that's what triggered him to write his book.


What a twist in history! The yellow badge that made such a distance between Jews and Nazis during the holocaust became a source of getting closer.  Reminds me of the Bible verse Psalms 118:22:


"The stone [which] the builders refused is become the head [stone] of the corner"…