Exactly 10 years after Temple Or Olam’s first meeting, the Cabarrus County congregation will celebrate its anniversary by dedicating a new hand-carved artifact from Israel.The temple’s first-ever Torah ark, made from African walnut, arrived this week via truck. The ark will hold Temple Or Olam’s two Torahs and a children’s Torah.Until now, the congregation has kept its Torahs in a wooden box with handles. The new ark will be 7 feet high and about 3 feet wide when placed on a stand.Because Temple Or Olam meets at McGill Baptist Church, the ark is portable and can be rolled into a storage area when the congregation is not using it.The men’s group of the congregation chose the ark, which was designed and carved by Israel-based artist Gabriel Bass.“The ark is somewhat unusual,” said Rabbi Barbara Thiede, the congregation’s spiritual leader, who also writes a column for Cabarrus News. “I was thrilled when our men’s group told me what they were looking at.”Symbols of creation, sustainingArks typically are carved with symbols such as the Ten Commandments, a Star of David or a menorah. Temple Or Olam’s ark features carvings of the seven species of Israel, which are natural products such as dates, wheat, barley and pomegranates.The seven foods were staples of the diet of Hebrew people living in Israel during biblical times, and the foods have special significance in biblical stories, teaching and traditions.Today, the seven species still have meaning, Thiede said.“The images we see every time we will look at the ark are images that have to do with creation, images that sustain us and how we survive,” she said. “We survive through the substance we get from the earth and through the substance we get from Torah.”The new ark also will come with a ner tamid, a light that traditionally hangs over an ark in a synagogue and represents God’s eternal light.Thiede said she has long craved a ner tamid for Temple Or Olam, but the congregation has never had its own space to hang one in.The Or Olam ark is designed with a hook that hangs over it where a ner tamid can be suspended. “It gives me chills to think about it,” Thiede said. “We’ll have our eternal light over our ark on our 10th anniversary.” The ark, with its symbolic carvings, will provide a foundation for Thiede’s teaching during the congregation’s High Holy Days services and likely for months beyond, Thiede said.Founded 10 years agoThiede will unveil the ark and ner tamid at the congregation’s Erev Rosh Hashanah service at 7 p.m. Sept. 4. She has several surprises planned for the service and said everyone who comes, whether they are a guest or a congregant, can participate.She said Temple Or Olam, which she founded 10 years ago with friend Brian Cutler because she was longing for Jewish friendships in Cabarrus County, has grown into a community.What started as a havurah, or community of friends, has become a Jewish congregation with regular services, a rabbi – Thiede was ordained in early 2011 – two Torahs and a religious school. It has met in several locations in Cabarrus County over the years, including McGill Baptist.“I’ve emphasized for years what’s most important to me is the nature of the community, not the house we are in,” Thiede said.The community is invited to join Temple Or Olam for its High Holy Days services, which will be at McGill Baptist Church, 5300 Poplar Tent Road, Concord.Guests are asked to consider making a donation to offset the rental costs of the church. High Holy Days donations can be applied toward membership dues if guests join the congregation within three months.
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
Concord’s Temple Or Olam to unveil Torah ark
High Holy Days The community is invited to Temple Or Olam’s High Holy Days services at McGill Baptist Church, 5300 Poplar Tent Road, Concord. High Holy Days services will begin at 2 p.m. Sept. 1. The congregation’s Erev Rosh Hashanah service is at 7 p.m. Sept. 4. Guests are invited to make a donation. For information about Temple Or Olam and a complete list of High Holy Days services, visit www.or-olam.org.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her with story ideas at email@example.com.
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