Thepresence of sacred objects that are mainly used in the Jewish ritualsis the primary source of distinction between the Jewish office andthe rests of offices. The Jewish offices contain ordinaryinfrastructure, but the presence of objects, both ordinary andarticulate, make these offices different. In this paper, I willdiscuss how a collection of sacred objects that I saw in the Jewishoffice makes it different from other offices on our campus.
Asimple glare at the objects placed in the Jewish office is enough torealize that the office is completely different from the rest. Thisis because all objects that one sees starting right from the doorreflect the Jewish culture and religion. Although it may be arguedthat the sacred objects are placed in the office simply because it isa Jewish study program, some of the objects are easy to recognize,especially for someone who have visited a Jewish homes. This isbecause Jews consider their homes as ritualistic and place some ofthe common objects in different locations in their houses (Ochs 491).
TheJewish office on the campus contains a combination of “tashmisheymitzvah” and objects that do not necessarily carry the intrinsicvalue of holiness. Some of the common items that were easy toidentify in the office include shofar, mezuzah, Talmud books,menorah, kippa hat, tsadaka charity box, and Hasidic Jew paintings.Articulate and transformed objects
Themain difference between articulate and transformed objects is thatthe articulate ones can only be used to signify certain Jewish valuesor traditions, while the transformed objects are those that can beused for other purposes. This means that transformed objects areordinary and can be for secular purposes, but they become sacred whenthe Jews start using them for ritual or religious purposes (Greene31). Out of the objects identified in the Jewish office, two of them(including shofar and tsadaka charity box) can be considered to beordinary objects and the rest (including mezuzah, Talmud books,menorah, kappa hat, and Hasidic Jew paintings) are articulate.
Eachof the objects identified in the Jewish office on the campus has itsown significance in the life of a Jew. For example, shofar is a typeof trumpet that is made of a ram’s horn that is blown to signifyvarious ritualistic events. Pitch altering items are not allowed, butnotches can be added to the lower end of the horn (Greene 36).Mezuzah refers to parchment that has inscribed Hebrew verses that arederived from Torah. Mezuzah is mainly placed in the door step tosignify the Jews home, and it served to remind them of theirconnection with the creator as well as their own heritage (Meitner193). Talmud books are books that contain a collection of laws thatguide the conduct of the Jews with the objective of helping the livein accordance with the will of their creator and live in harmony withpeople. These laws are referred to as traditions of the elders in theJewish culture.
Menorahis a lamp stand that holds a set of seven lamps that are lit by theJews during the night, but the center one may be lit even during theday (Greene 35). Kippa hat refers to a type of skullcap that ismainly worn by the Jewish men and rarely won by the Jewish women.This type of cap is worn under the directions of Talmud that the headshould remain covered all the time. Tzedakah charity box is a type ofbox that is made of wood and it signifies goodwill. Although the boxis referred to as a charity box, goodwill in the Jewish culture ismore of an obligation than charity. Painting of a Hasidic Jew is acollection of different types of paintings that are specifically usedby the Jews. These paintings were located in the background of theJewish office.
Theaforementioned objects are categorized into two groups depending onthe purpose for which they are used. Articulate objects (includingmezuzah, Talmud books, menorah, and Hasidic Jew paintings) arecategorized as such because they are only used to accomplish theJewish rituals or symbolize different Jewish beliefs. These objectscannot be used for in the ordinary activities under any circumstance.For example, Talmud books contain laws that were only formulated toguide the Jews in leading a life that respect the will of God as wellas the Jewish culture.
Theordinary objects are categorized as such because they can be used toaccomplish ordinary activities, but the Jews can as well use them tosignify their beliefs. For example, shofar is an ordinary ram hornthat can be used by elders in some communities to take bear orperform their traditional rituals, other than the Jewish rituals.Tzedakah charity box, takes the shape of an ordinary charity box thatone can find, even in the supermarket for those who wish tocontribute for charity purposes. However, the same box starts tosignify goodwill as soon as it is placed in a Jewish home of office.
Thepresence of articulate objects that can only be used to signify theJewish religion and culture is the main factor that distinguishes theJewish office from other offices that are available on the campus.Although the Jewish office contain ordinary infrastructure (such astables and chairs) that are found in other offices, the presence ofarticulate objects (such as Talmud books) makes the offices different(Meitner 183). In addition, although items (such as Tzedakah charitybox) are considered to be ordinary, they are difficult to find inother study programs, apart from the Jewish office.
Thetwo categories, ordinary and articulate, of objects signify differentJewish values and beliefs that distinguish them from other people.Although the office may contain ordinary infrastructure, the presenceof sacred objects distinguishes the Jewish office from other officeson the campus. Some objects are categorized as ordinary (such asshofar), but they still cannot be found in other study programs,besides the Jewish offices.
Greene,V. Accessories of holiness: Defining Jewish sacred objects. JAIC31 (1992): 31-39.
Meitner,E. TheMezuzah: American Judaism and constructions of domestic sacred space.Print.
Ochs,L. Whatmakes a Jewish home?New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999. Print.