The Seasons of Joy Ketubah seeks to honor the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe that were architectural wonders. The lower portion of the ketubah is reminiscent of the illumination one might have found gracing the interior ceilings and walls of the synagogues. Depicted is the annual cycle of Jewish festivals: (from upper left) Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Shabbat, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Pesach, The Omer, and Shavuot. The two trees growing together represent Trees of Life, the wedding chuppah, and the intertwining of two lives. The upper portion shows the decorative wood exterior typical of these synagogues, and serves as a symbol of the family home. The circular window shows the new (empty) moon, marking each Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of every month of the Jewish calendar. The prayer in gold at the top is the Shehechiyanu:Blessed are You, Adonai, our eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for allowing us to reach this season.
The exteriors of these synagogues were expertly crafted, with beautifully carved cornices, balconies, window sashes, gables, and tall sloping roofs. Inside, many had walls graced with elaborate and colorful illumination depicting local flora and fauna, zodiacal images, geometric and abstract designs, and more. Most importantly, they were monuments of pride and joy, centers of the community. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, scores of these synagogues dotted the Eastern European countryside. Tragically, any left standing in the 20th century were destroyed during World War II.
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