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Rendering by David Abecassis

The Ner Tamid

Ner Tamid designed by Claude Riedel

Dedicated by the Greenblatt Family
in memory of Vera Greenblatt Z"L

Claude Riedel has been designing and creating stained glass windows and sculptures for the past 30 years and his works can be seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes. Over the past 20 years he has gradually concentrated his efforts on creating ceremonial art for synagogues. He now specializes in making Ner Tamids. 

His designs keep the focus on “the light of God” and its refracting, shimmering, infinite layers of energy. Everything in his work is meant to celebrate and enhance the Light of the Eternal. Particular to the Arzei Darom Ner Tamid are the 12 colored circles, which represent the 12 tribes of Israel, while a small Star of David sits in the very bottom of the piece.

All the elements of Riedel’s hand-made pieces are unique. He interspersed pieces of glass or crystal in parts of the chain, which he designed himself, to "lighten" the weighty feel.  Riedel adds his own special texture to his metalwork, which is usually soldered with a copper patina to darken slowly over time.

His pieces combine ancient forms (the shape and texture of the metal work) and the soft, naturalistic, and expressive line and texture of the glass shapes. He uses multiple layers of only clear glass to capture the purity, perfection, wholeness, and infinite radiance of the eternal spirit.  The arms represent the three major functions of the synagogue as a House of Assembly, a House of Prayer, and a House of Study.  They also symbolize the three pillars that sustain the world:  Torah (Sacred Study), Avodah (Divine Service), and Gemilut Chasadim (Deeds of Loving-Kindness); or, as otherwise formulated, Emet (Truth), Din (True Judgment/Justice), and Shalom (Peace).

Riedel is inspired by the Kabbalistic description of the source of light (G-d) as radiating from a “primary mystic center” in ever-expanding layers of radiant translucence.  The permanence of the “source” and inspiration of the ever-expanding facets of that light as it shines on and fills us all provides comfort for Riedel.  According to the 16th-century Kabbalist Isaac Luria, God created the world “by forming vessels of light to hold the Divine Light.  But as God poured the Light into the vessels, they catastrophically shattered, tumbling down toward the realm of matter.  Thus, our world consists of countless shards of the original vessels entrapping sparks of the Divine Light.”

Riedel’s history is replete with these images as his grandfather was taken away to Buchenwald on Kristalnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. His work is an effort to take some of those shards and turn them into something whole and holy.

A message from Claude Riedel: In your prayers and meditation let the comfort of the eternal light remind and inspire you to light and tend to the Ner Tamid in your own heart – bringing light to darkness; generation to generation; to openness instead of concealment; to study rather than blind faith; to clarity versus mystery.  May each of us be in touch with our own internal Divine Light and share it with the world in peace.

Wed, July 17 2024 11 Tammuz 5784