The Seudah Tapestry

Artist: Sophia Adler
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George M. Kaufman-1968

ohef sholom tapestryAlthough history records much of violence and humanity, Jewish philosophy always envisioned the perfecibility of man. The seudah is the Hebrew name for the mythical banquet that will take place at the end of time, when the Messiah will come, when good will finally conquer evil. A century ago, East European Jews conjured up out of legend, yearning and hope, a tender Yiddish folk song on which the tapestry is based.

In the center panel, Solomon is the tallit-wrapped scholar who reads from a scroll with the Hebrew word, Emet- Truth. Above Solomon, The Menorah, the Tree of Life, bursts into flowering and fruiting, from limbs glowing with the charred embers of these who suffered martyrdom. From the central limb hangs the pomegranate, the ancient symbol of life and Torah.

To the left of the Menorah, David, the shepherd King, plays his harp and sings his psalms that have sustained people of all faiths. To the right of the Menorah, is Miriam, Sister of Moses, whose dancing celebrated the first great liberation, at the Red Sea.

The bottom three panels on a white silk fields represent the festive table. In the center is the Leviathan, a Biblical serpent, symbol of evil. On the left are grapes and fruit, the palm branches (Lulav-used at Succos), the Shofar, or ram’s horm sounded at the New Year, and on the right side is the citron, or Esrog, figs and other fruits, the willow and laurel leaves, and a goblet and pitcher of wine. This is the festive banquet – the seudah – when good triumphs over evil

The wide borders to the right and left show the sun and moon obeying the inexorable will of God.

The hanging is 12 feet high by 18 feet wide and the materials are hand-appliqued silks and cottons on fields on linen and hand woven silks from India and Thailand. The stitchery is wool, cotton, and metallic threads.