This paper discusses the design and symbolism of a hitherto unpublished work by the artist Arthur Szyk (1894–1951), an ark for the Torah which he designed for the Forest Hills Jewish Center of Queens, New York, and which was dedicated in 1949. The Torah Ark is the central focus of all synagogue worship. Szyk’s ark is unique in its multiplicity of symbols and texts, which was at odds with the modernist idiom of post-World War II synagogue architecture. This research, which also brings previously unpublished material, analyzes the possible sources for the work and its distinctive message, which is exceptional in the world of modern contemporary Jewish art.
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