Now that this year’s High Holy Days are over, it is time to think of covers specially made for next year. Commissioned by synagogues throughout the country, Torah Covers by Corinne Soikin Strauss of The Artist’s Studio are highly prized for their beauty, originality and spirituality.
Hand painted on tapestry weight silk, the carefully chosen colors range from the softest earth hues to vibrant jewel tones. Each cover, while respecting the sanctity of the Torah, reflects the individuality of the Congregation embodying traditional or contemporary motifs.
The photo above shows Torah Covers commissioned by the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. The Synagogue was designed by Norman Jaffe and opened to critical acclaim in 1988. It won numerous architectural awards. According to Artist Corrine:
“I was thoroughly intimidated by the commission. Paul Goldberger, who has written for the New Yorker and the NY Times, said “Jaffe’s greatest accomplishment was in recognizing the power of abstractly crafted space to create a spiritual presence without compromising the Jewish tradition of understatement in synagogue design.” There are no stained glass windows, no paintings and no sculpture. It is a model of simplicity and purity. I wanted the covers to be elegant and stately but not jump out at you with bright color. There are a series of vertical wood columns topped with seven branches. To some they recall the ancient menorah symbol of Judaism representing divine light and knowledge. I used this symbol for the covers. I chose a silk that was tapestry weight but had a fine gold tread in it. Although each cover (6) is a different color, the colors are muted. I purchased enough of the material for extra covers should they be needed and was then asked to create a 50th Anniversary cover and a cover to commemorate a newly inscribed Torah. Their design works with the existing mantles when the ark is opened.”
Corrine was also asked to design two High Holy Day covers and did so with a concept of the Shofar and a visual representation of the sound they make. The four covers pictured above, commissioned at different times, have silver and gold leaves painted on them and they all work together when the ark is opened.
Each commission has a “story” and each set of Torah Mantles are designed with the sanctuary or holiday in mind.