Museum staff and contractors, led by Ryan Walker and Teresa Myers, recently began the painstaking process of re-installing the central portion of the Torah ark that they disassembled and moved to the museum last summer from the former Beth Abraham Synagogue in Auburn.
The most important and decorative architectural element of any synagogue is the ark, where the Torah scrolls, containing the Old Testament written in Hebrew, are kept. The Beth Abraham ark was designed and built by Maine craftsmen in 1933-1934 when the synagogue was constructed on Laurel Street in Auburn. Beth Abraham closed in November 2017.
The ark will be the largest, but certainly not the only feature of the museum’s upcoming exhibition, Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries. The exhibit, organized by guest curator Amy E. Waterman, will also examine how and why Jews came to Maine; Jewish material culture and traditions concerning life cycles and holidays; Jewish summer camps; Maine communities and professions influenced by Jewish people; and religious materials. The exhibition will also contain over 75 photographs depicting all aspects of the Jewish experience in Maine over the past 150 years. The exhibition is set to open on September 14, 2018.
Museum staff members Teresa Myers (left) and Ryan Walker (right) look on as the crew from PRO Moving steadies the upper section of the Beth Abraham Torah ark as it is lifted into position atop the cabinet that contained the Torah scrolls. The ark will be one of many objects and photographs exhibited in the museum’s larger temporary gallery on the 4th floor as part of the upcoming Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries exhibition.