In May of 2019 Eddie Jacobs was invited by Ronnie Stern (President of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan) and Michael Jesselson (Honorary President of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan) to create a Torah Ark (Aron Kodesh) and a glass window mural spanning the entire side of the Woman’s Beit HaMidrash Building at Bar Ilan University, known as the Midrasha.
The installation was meant to honor the memories of Jerome L. Stern, long time Bar-Ilan benefactor (Ronnie’s father), as well as Erica Jesselson (Michael’s mother). Both of these people were “strong leaders and proponents of incorporating Jewish art and Hidur Mitzvah- the aesthetic enhancement of physical elements used in Jewish worship, not as something additive but as something transformative that elevates and holistically enhances the Jewish experience to another level.” *
Eddie also has a very personal connection with this project, since he himself was very close with noted philanthropist and art collector Jerome Stern for the last 30 years of his life. Jerome Stern was one of Eddie’s first patrons when he began his career as an artist, and among others brought him to design the Hampton Synagogue, which later became to be recognized as one of “America’s most celebrated synagogues”.
The project officially launched in August 2018 and the installation of the window mural was just completed in February 2020.
Bar Ilan University, Israel
The design of the Ark and windows is based on the “Aleinu” prayer, said at the conclusion of every prayer service in Jewish liturgy. Divided into two complimentary parts, the prayer deals with both the universal vision of Judaism for the world, and the particularity of Jewish function within that vision.
Uniquely, the Aron Kodesh is suspended from above and does not come into contact with the ground. The windows are also unique both in composition and construction. Instead of using traditional leaded joints to hold glass pieces together within a solid frame, the windows at Bar Ilan are composed of 132 distinct plates of 3-layer glass, suspended one to another by way of brass links which allow views of the outside to become part of the painted mural.
The various elements of the commission were crafted and fabricated by a team consisting of some of Israel’s foremost artisans and craftspeople working under the creative direction of Jacobs.