Fondazione De Benedetti - Cherasco 1547
Jewish Cherasco /Synagogue
THE ARON - THE ARK
Known as aron ha-kodesh (holy ark) by the Ashkenazim, and as heikhal (sanctuary) among Sefaradim, the Ark is the cabinet that contains the scrolls of the Torah. It is placed on the wall nearest to Jerusalem, toward which the congregants turn during prayers.
THE PAROKHET (The curtain)
The parokhet is a curtain that covers the holy ark as a separation between sacred and profane.
It is often decorated with the abbreviation of the Ten Commandments. In Cherasco, the parokhet of 18th century velvet is without any embroidered lettering, and the Ten Commandments are painted directly on the wooden doors of the ark.
THE NER TAMID (Eternal Light)
A light, hung over the ark, is always lit, and is traditionally associated with the seven-branched lampstand (menorah) of the Temple in Jerusalem, which burned day and night in front of the Holy Ark there. In Jewish tradition, it is interpreted as the symbol of the eternity and permanence of God.
The Tevah is the pulpit with the lectern for the reading of the Torah. In Italian synagogues, it is traditionally placed in the center of the hall, as in Cherasco. It may also be placed at one of the synagogue's far ends.
In keeping with the second commandment that forbids the veneration of idols, Jews do not decorate their places of worship with anthropomorphic images. Featured instead are verses from the sacred texts and geometric, vegetal or animal designs, or various traditional Jewish symbols - the candelabra, the shofar, etc.
Here only floral design is used. Each short text is a rhymed four-line compilation of verses drawn, with considerable freedom, from Biblical and other sources, expressing joy in the worship of God and faith in His redemption.
The long prayer in Aramaic, at the center of the western wall, is drawn from the mystic literature. It is recited when the Ark is opened, before the reading of the Torah.
Water was used as a means of purification before prayer, through the washing of hands. At Cherasco, the basin is placed at the entrance to the prayer hall.
The rhymed dedicatory plaque commemorates the gift of the brothers Abraham and Nathan Baruch (De Benedetti) in the year 1792-3.
Mezuzah in Hebrew means doorpost.
The term has come to mean a small case, which contains a parchment bearing the first two paragraphs of the prayer recited morning and evening daily, known as the Shema ("Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One").
The mezuzah texts affirm: the oneness of God, the obligation to love Him, and the reward for following His precepts.
This case is affixed to the entrance of the most frequented rooms of a Jewish home, in keeping with the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:9 to write these words upon the doorposts, as a perpetual reminder.
THE ALMS BOX
The inscription reads: “Anonymous donation box”,
Jewish law ordains the donation of one tenth of one's personal income for the support of the community.
Besides the tithe, additional donations for the needy are always encouraged. Particularly praiseworthy are spontaneous and anonymous donations, where neither the donor nor the recipient knows the identity of the other.
The box is usually placed at the entrance to the prayer hall - a reminder that cannot be overlooked.