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Days of Creation Stained Glass

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. And God said: "Let there be light." And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness God called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." Genesis, Book 1 Chapter 1

So begins the story of creation, one of the most stirring and universally familiar passages of the Pentateuch. The story inspired David and Michelle Plachte-Zuieback to create the windows of our Small Sanctuary in September 2000. We welcome you to take this opportunity to learn about the windows, shown below. The artists wrote the synopsis for each window, and the photographs are courtesy of CBI member Rob Capon.

Creation Days 1 and 2 depicts the bringing forth of the concrete from the abstract, the emanation of light and energy and the establishment of the fundamental design of the Universe. A mandala, with the four letters of the tetragrammaton spells the name of G-d and expresses the holiness of the creation. A six-pointed Star of David is, subtly, part of the mandala. A pomegranate, containing the raw material of creation, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, as seeds, cracks apart, like the primordial Kabalistic broken vessel. Sparks fly out. Five miniature versions of the pomegranate, a Tree of Life, showing their seeds, blossom from the holy vessel, representing the nature of the Universe, where life reproduces life. The pomegranate is the symbol of Torah and five is the Five Books of Moses. A colored border, made up of 613 divisions takes it's design from a chromatograph of the DNA molecule, symbol of life, and is composed of the constituent colors of light. The water below is separated from the water above. The water below appears to "divide," foretelling the splitting of the Red Sea and the redemption of the Jewish people. Two circles with concentric rings and orbits symbolize the archetypal structure of the Universe, which takes this form, whether you are looking at an atom or a solar system.

Creation Days 3 and 4 shows the sun, moon and stars and the bringing forth of seed-bearing plants from the earth. A sun radiates light and is surrounded by the seven phases of the moon. Constellations of stars from the night sky of Jerusalem float amid the blueness. Prolific sunflowers, forming the letter, "Shin," reach up to the warming sun. The leaves are formed of earth, which is filled with Hebrew Letters, the raw material of creation. Diagrams of various seed forms and flowers fill the border surrounding the composition.

Creation Days 5 and 6 is about the creation of animal life, in all it's abundance and diversity: fish, birds and reptiles, mammals and humankind. The lower section of the window is filled with fish, as the sea brings forth swarms. An arch of stylized reptiles surrounds the central image, "Adam." The letters of “Adam” are illuminated with the raw material of creation, Tohu v'Vohu. A banner, weaving through the name, "Adam," specifies the equality of the female and male nature of mankind. A border of silhouettes of all different mammals, surrounds the composition. Three linked circles symbolize the interconnected nature of life on Earth. Two birds, part of the life created on the Third Day, hover over creation, like the spirit of Shechinah.

In Creation Day 7, Shabbat and Redemption revolves around the prayer for redemption, the "Mi Chamocha." An emblem contains a vision of "Jerusalem On High," the "ideal Jerusalem," "Jerusalem Shel Zahav." Two candles, symbolizing "Shabbat," flank the composition. The smoke of the candles intermingles, to form the word, "Zachor," meaning, "remember." A shattered cup recalls, an allusion to "Krystal Nacht", presaging the Holocaust. A Red Sea divides. The dividing of the Red Sea was the climax of the series of miracles that redeemed the Israelites from Egypt. Above and blow the edge of the page of Torah, there is "Tohu v'Vohu," the pre-creation chaotic state of the Universe, from which G-d redeems us by giving us the Torah. The "Mi chamocha" appears, in the Torah, as part of the "Song at the Sea." Visually, this section of Torah is unique, and easily recognizable, because it is written in a distinctive poetic format, unlike any other part of the Torah. The background of our composition is a visual representation of this page of Torah. The text is there, in stanza form, with the first four words of the "Mi Chamocha" centered, enlarged and rendered in gold.

The Ten Commandments: Dogwood blossoms, native to Charlottesville, surround the Ten Commandments, which are rendered in gold dichroic glass. The first "aleph" of the first commandment is enlarged to emphasize this commandment: "I am the Lord, thy G-d." Six hundred and thirteen black and white squares form the arches. The background blends from dark to light, from day to night. A light green graduated border creates a light and delicate feeling which makes the whole composition appear to float. A lightening bolt, suggests Israel's experience at Sinai, of the divine presence, implicit in the first commandment. Specific constellations of stars, taken from a star map of the night sky over Jerusalem, on Shavuot, fill the sky.

Sun, April 14 2024 6 Nisan 5784