Religion & Beliefs

What Do You Call It When Two Shtenders Crash Into Each Other?

A shtender bender! Y’all have seen shtenders before. They’re basically lecturns used in synagogues, schools and homes to hold a siddur open in front of you while you daven, or a different Jewish book open for you while you study. … Read More

By / May 15, 2007

A shtender bender! Y’all have seen shtenders before. They’re basically lecturns used in synagogues, schools and homes to hold a siddur open in front of you while you daven, or a different Jewish book open for you while you study. It’s pretty straightforward. A shtender is s thing that’s nice to have, but not entirely necessary, since your two hands will work just fine. But for those of us with a larger budget, (and by larger, I mean astronomical) there’s the Tree of Life Shtender created by artists David Moss and Noah Greenberg. The Tree of Life Shtender is a hand carved wooden shtender that is also a “compartmentalized treasure chest for all the ritual objects of daily, weekly and yearly use in the hands-on practice of Judaism.” Basically, the shtender has in it everything you need to practice the rituals of Jewish life. There’s a shofar and a havdalah set, an etrog box and a seder plate. Pretty much anything you need to carry out a mandated ritual is somehow integrated into the shtender. And when I said that it was hand-carved, I meant that someone painstakingly whittled this thing out of solid wood, leaving precise and gorgeous carvings of the trees and plants of Israel, including the seven species. It is, truly, one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. And it is the embodiment of practical spirituality. Moss and Greenberg took something base and practical, something that you could easily ignore because it’s so utilitarian, and they infused it with spirituality and art. They’ll even come to your synagogue or school and teach about art and text and spirituality. Like I said, this is an extraordinarily expensive piece of artwork—but it’s not like a painting you’ll put on a wall. You’ll be USING this baby. Still, it’s a whole lot of money, and you essentially have to commission it because they don’t just make tons of extras to have lying around. But if you have the cash, this the kind of thing that your family will treasure for generations.