Thursday, May 3, 2012

Israel Day 9 - The Chagall Windows of Hadassah Hospital


Our day started off with a visit to Hadassah Hospital.  Originally Hadassah Hospital was located on Mt. Scopus, but following the War for Independence, it was cut off from the rest of Jerusalem.  So after a period of wandering in the wilderness, they built a whole new premier campus elsewhere in Jerusalem. To commemorate this campus, the hospital approached famous artist Marc Chagall to create a series of stained glass windows for a synagogue located inside the hospital.

Typically when one comes back to a place after a long time, everything seems smaller.  In this case, I remember the windows being much smaller than they actually are, which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

Chagall offered to do the windows for free, minus the cost of supplies.  When several of the windows were later destroyed in 67, he replaced them, but left a hole in each of the restored windows as a reminder of the shrapnel.  However when the windows were sent off for cleaning, the repairmen actually fixed all of the holes unintentionally.  So now only one of these reminders remain.

The windows represent the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel).  And they are based on Genesis 49, where Jacob 'blesses' his twelve sons.  My favorite is of course Benjamin, but there symbols that abound in all of the windows.

These windows also represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the forerunners of our people.  However Joseph, Jacob's favorite son, never actually became one of the twelve tribes.  Instead Jacob 'adopted' Joseph's two sons Menasseh and Ephraim, two sort of half tribes.  But no matter the Biblical History, the windows are absolutely stunning.

And one interesting side note: Chagall signed his name in every window in English, except the tribe of Judah, which he signed his name in Hebrew.  Judah is the tribe from which the name Jew is derived, and from which most Jews can trace their ancestry back to.

However photography is strongly discouraged as it is a house of worship, so instead, I am attaching photos from the web.  However these pictures don't do justice to the actual windows.  So I highly recommend stopping by, if ever you find yourself in Jerusalem.





Hadassah Hospital is one of the premier hospitals in the region.  Plus, as we noted on our way in and out, it has a mall inside its walls that make it worth visiting, even if it is only for the shopping and baked goods.  Something I wouldn't mind seeing in other hospitals.

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