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Chagall Twelve Tribes of Israel
Posted by Kenny on 5/9/2008 2:29:01 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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The largest medical center in the Middle East, the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center stands on a hilltop several miles from downtown Jerusalem. The center contains a medical school, nursing school, hospital, dental and pharmacy schools, and various laboratory buildings. The hospital's synagogue contains Chagall's 12 exquisite stained-glass windows depicting the blessings that Jacob, on his deathbed, bestowed to each of his 12 sons (Genesis 49:1-27). The sons of Jacob became the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

The Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center was dedicated on February 6th, 1962, as part of Hadassah's Golden Anniversary celebration. The floors and interior walls are made of Jerusalem Stone, and the Synagogue is illuminated by a hanging lantern and by sunlight which streams through the magnificent Chagall Windows.

Marc Chagall, who was present at the dedication, spoke of the joy he felt in bringing "my modest gift to the Jewish people, who have always dreamt of biblical love, of friendship and peace among all people; to that people who lived here, thousands of years ago, among other Semitic people. My hope is that I hereby extend my hand to seekers of culture, to poets and to artists among the neighboring people."

Chagall PaintingThe Windows represents the 12 sons of the Patriarch Jacob, from whom came the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Chagall's Windows are populated by floating figures of animals, fish, flowers, and numerous Jewish symbols. To fully understand the significance of the Windows they must be viewed against Chagall's deep sense of identification with the whole of the Jewish history, its tragedies and victories, as well as his own personal background in the shtetl of Vitebsk, where he was born and grew up.

But it was the bible which provided his main inspiration, particularly Genesis 49, where Jacob blesses his 12 sons, and Deuteronomy 33, where Moses blesses the Twelve Tribes. The dominant colors used in each window are inspired by those blessings as well as by the Description of the breastplate of the High Priest in Exodus 28:15, which was colored gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, and contained 12 gems including emeralds , turquoise, sapphire, blue jacinth, agate, beryl, lapis lazuli and jasper.

Watch a video of the magnificent Chagall Windows at the Hadassah Medical Center.

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