The five sublime stained-glass windows in the façade of New York City’s congregation Kehilath Jeshurun KJ/Ramaz School tell the story of the Five Books of Moses, taking us from the Creation of the world to the Promised Land.
This masterpiece has been made possible by the generosity and shared faith of:
"I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to share my vision of the Five Books of Moses. The journey of creation that retells this universal story has been an unparalleled privilege, both professional and personal. Using glass and its refracted light to narrate the stories of my ancestors, in landscapes I know so intimately, has added a new dimension to my lifelong effort to capture in my art the spiritual that is interwoven into our daily lives as Jews. I hope with all my heart that these windows will stir within others a new understanding and a spiritual longing."
The windows are recreated from Israeli artist Ofra Friedland’s oil series of the Five Books of Moses (from the Marilyn & Jack Belz Collection), with each window portraying the artist’s interpretation of the essence of each Book. Like the original paintings, every window is complete in itself, while also flowing together with its four companions to form a coherent whole, telling the entirety of the Torah.
Created in Israel for the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun KJ/ Ramaz Lower School building, the stained-glass artwork combines the talents of master artists with the expertise of consummately skilled of craftsmen.
Stained glass is a complex and specialized medium. The first step in this international artistic collaboration was selecting dozens of pieces of specially manufactured glass in shades and transparencies on which the richness of the paintings could be reproduced in their every detail. Specialist glassblowers laminated these dozens of chosen pieces with thin layers of different-colored molten glass to create flashed glass — a form which remains transparent to light when colors are diminished and other materials added.
Each image on each panel was then constructed, step by step, with a fusion of techniques and materials. Acid gently removed layers of colored glass, making strong tones more transparent and enabling a wide palette of shades. Images were layered onto the glass surfaces in turn, vitreous paints, enamels and sometimes silver stain were precisely applied, with the glass plunged into the kiln after each application. Because The KJ/ Ramaz stained glass windows are placed, unusually, at eye level, every detail had to be exact.
An ongoing challenge was the fluid and unpredictable nature of glass: while every image was built clearly and accurately, changes can occur in the kiln. With shades, silhouettes, and contours emerging only gradually, and final images unseen until the firing of the last layer, the experience of each process and a healthy imagination were required in equal measure.
Recreating the artist’s masterful series in glass demanded adjustments to the original oil paintings, but has compensated for them with a spectacular added dimension: the light that shines through each window constantly changes, emphasizing, muting, and modifying colors and images to reflect their surroundings, the shifting seasons, and even the emotions of the viewer. This play of light on glass serves to intensify not only the images, but also the central human concepts they convey.
Created by the skills of many, this multi-layered triumph in glass tells the story of the divine and the everyday, man at his most spiritual and at his most base.
Artist: Ofra Friedland
Creative and Production Management: Yair Medina, Jerusalem Fine Art Prints
Glass Master Craftsman: Barak Uranovsky
Metal Construction: Chezi Cohen, Mikedem
Creation of windows: Jerusalem, Israel, 2014-2017
Materials used: antique flash glass, antique streaky glass, lead, solder and sealant.
These materials have remained virtually unchanged since early medieval times, some 900 years ago, when they were first developed. All materials are of European origin.
Size of windows (in meters):
Genesis: “62.1x”50.3 | Exodus: “62.1x”50.3 | Leviticus: “62.1x”74.23 | Numbers: “62.1x”50.3 | Deuteronomy: “62.1x”50.3
Installed at the Kehilath Jeshurun Congregation/The Ramaz School: October 2016 to February 2017
Discriptive Metirials & Website:
Writing: Wendy Alliman
Graphic Design: Liron Bar-Cochva
Development: Motti Mor - JFAP, Eytan Tesler - Better Web
Production: Yael Terra Halevi
All images © Yair Medina
To schedule a visit please contact:
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun
The Ramaz School
Creative and Production Management:
Jerusalem Fine Art Prints | Yair Medina
HaTa'asiya 2, Jerusalem, Israel