The cabinet that contains the scrolls of the Sefer Torah

The Aron haKodesh, (also known as Aron), in English the Holy Ark, is the cabinet that contains the scrolls of the Sefer Torah. Together with the tevah, it is the main component of a synagogue. The Aron always faces Jerusalem, and the tevah is often centrally located. The Aron is opened during the service, and the scrolls are carefully unrolled and read on the tevah. Also near the Aron is the ornamental table with the Ten Commandments and the ner tamid, the eternal light, a symbol of God’s constant presence and protection toward the people of Israel. Another typical element of Aron haKodesh is the parokhet, the ornamental curtain placed to cover the wardrobe doors. It is reminiscent of the decorative tent of the Jerusalem sanctuary that hid the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.

The Aron haKodesh of the Casale Monferrato synagogue is a monumental piece of furniture from the late eighteenth century, beautifully decorated with precious woods, gold, and capitals. It has a central body in stone and plaster surmounted by a tympanum. Wooden columns support it. The Corinthian capitals and the decoration of oak branches and leaves on the tympanum are made of gilded wood and contrast with the rest of the ark, whose doors are made of dark wood. At the top, on the tympanum, is the table of the Ten Commandments, with golden letters on a dark background, surmounted by a crown, symbolizing the kingship of the Law of God. When opened, the ark’s interior is covered in red damask with gold relief, while the inside of the doors is painted light blue.

For the synagogue of Casale, in addition to using ancient designs, the Community has asked contemporary artists to create ad hoc parokhiyot (the plural of parokhet), exhibited at different times of the year.