Torah Ark

This is a carved plaque section of a Torah ark, made in the late 19th or early 20th century, that was dismantled from a former Philadelphia synagogue.
Religious affiliation or connection to a religious group was an important social, economic, and ideological component of ethnic identity, especially for turn of the century America. Religious affiliation helped immigrants by welcoming them into the communities, assisting with their transition socially and economically.
Those practicing Judaism sought to create a balance between European traditions within a new American setting. By 1900 there was a large population of both reform and Orthodox Judaism. Decorative Torah arks such as this were found in synagogues around the country and are most likely a link to the elaborately carved decorations of their former synagogues in Europe.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
ca 1880 - 1920
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
nails (part material)
overall: 36 3/4 in x 33 3/4 in x 9 1/2 in; 93.345 cm x 85.725 cm x 24.13 cm
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Cultures & Communities
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Religion
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Grossman, Grace Cohen, with Richard Eighme Ahlborn. Judaica at the Smithsonian: Cultural Politics as Cultural Model
Additional Media

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