Frequently Asked Questions
Mezuzah on the Doorposts in the Building
Jewish law proscribes that mezuzot (plural) containing parchment inscribed with verses from the Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, be affixed to doorposts of Jewish buildings. The mezuzot of the HMCZFC were designed and created by sculptor and Holocaust survivor, Martin Lowenberg, especially for the Center.
Why is G-d’s name hyphenated?
Throughout the museum, you will find the name of G-d hyphenated. The Talmud, Tractate Makot, folio 22a, commenting on Deuteronomy 12:4, states that it is prohibited to erase any letter of the written name of G-d. However, if the name of G-d is not written out in full, we do not violate this prohibition whether the name is erased purposely or by accident. It should be noted that because the entire English name of G-d is not a prescribed Hebrew Biblical form of G-d’s name, the prohibition does not apply. Though writing G-d’s name in full in English is commonly practiced, it is not technically a prohibition of the Biblical commandment. Respectfully, G-d’s full name is hyphenated in the Center.
Memorial Wall Inscription
The holy communities that were murdered, burned and slaughtered by the Nazis,
May their name be erased.
What do the abbreviations B.C.E. and C.E. mean?
B.C.E. is the abbreviation for “Before the Common Era.” C.E. is the abbreviation for “Common Era.” These two terms relate to the civil calendar. The Jewish calendar begins with the year which marks the creation of the world. The current Jewish year is 5773 and corresponds to the 2012-2013 civil calendar.
Rema Synagogue and Bimah Verses
Moving beyond the Time Line into the Museum of European Jewish Heritage, you will immediately encounter a replica of the Rema (pronounced Re-mŏ) Synagogue founded in 1553 by Rabbi Moses Isserles, whose initials form the name, Rema. The synagogue of the Rema is located in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Krakow, Poland and the adjoining cemetery where Rabbi Isserles is buried were in use for centuries. Before World War II, thousands of Polish Jews visited his grave each year on the anniversary (yahrtzeit) of his death. Even before his death in 1572, he was recognized as one of the great Halachic scholars of all time. He is considered to be the “Maimonides of Polish Jewry.”
The Hebrew at the top of the bimah reads, “This is the Gate to G-d. Righteous people may enter.”
The Hebrew on the three others sides (left, rear and right as you enter the Museum) reads:
(Left) “The presence of G-d is before me always.”
(Rear) “Know before Whom you stand.”
(Right) “Open for me the gates of righteousness.”
In the same Museum, just to the right of the shtetl mural, is a large scale reproduction of a page from a 15th century manuscript Haggadah found in the British Library. The Haggadah is a liturgical manual used at the festive Passover meal. The translation of the pictured wording is as follows:
“This is the bread of poverty which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat; all who are in want, come and celebrate the Passover. This year here, next year in the land of Israel. This year slaves, next year, free men.”