Early 20th Century Silver Mezuzah by Yehia Yemini, Bezalel School Jerusalem
The Mezuzah is a tiny receptacle that houses a parchment scroll which contains two verses from the scriptures. It is attached to the doorway of every Jewish home. Yehia's Mezuzahs followed the "Bezalelite" pattern, meaning that they are of silver, brass, alpaca and copper and include numerous and parallel hammered motifs. Some examples of these motifs are: paired Temple columns with an Oriental roof structure headed by the letter "shin" (denoting "Shadai", a name for G-d), stars of David, or inscriptions such as "and thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house and upon thy gates" (Deuteronomy 6:9). This particular Mezuzah features the Lion of Judah, the frontal face of the Temple of antiquity, and the name "Shadai" in holy lettering.
Yehia Yemini Born in 1897 into a family of San'a silversmiths, Yehia Yemini reached Jerusalem with his family at the young age of three. When Bezalel founded its Silver Department In 1908, Yemini became one of its employees, and helped other Yemenites to forge Bezalel's unique synthesis of East and West. After the dismissals of 1914, Yemini joined three groups of Jerusalem craftsmen who specialized in silver crafting in the manner of Bezalel: "Keter," "Kav Lavan," and "Sharar" (directed respectively by Shneior, Ossanovitch and Rabinovitz). Yemini was exceptionally talented and skilled in blending the traditions of Yemenite silver work with the design directions supplied by Ze'ev Raban. He established his workshop in the ground floor of his home in a Jerusalem neighborhood, known as Neveh Bezalel. To supplement his livelihood, he also worked as a torah scribe. In time, his craftsmanship gained prestige, both local and international. In 1931, he won a silver medal at the Paris world exhibition and in 1932, he won a gold medal at the Yarid Hamizrach exhibition in Tel Aviv. In 1937, he fashioned the Torah scroll cover and receptacle for the letter of goodwill, which were presented to King George VI on the occasion of his coronation. Yemini continued to actively work and produce Jewish ritual articles of filigree silver until the age of 85. He passed away in Jerusalem in 1983.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all manner of workmanship - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts." (Exodus 31, 1-5).
Established in 1906 by artist Boris Schatz as the “Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts”, Bezalel has evolved into one of the world's most prestigious art schools.
The name Bezalel is synonymous with more than 100 years of Israeli art, innovation and academic excellence. Bezalel’s unique strength stems from the numerous breakthroughs it has been responsible for and its ability to respond and adapt to cultural changes. It takes pride in its numerous generations of graduates, the spearhead of Israeli artists, designers and architects, in Israel and around the globe.
The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is, first and foremost, a group of talented, inspired and motivated artists and professionals. Both faculty and students are driven by a passion to create and by their dedication to quality and excellence.
These two pillars of the Academy have placed Bezalel at the epicenter of Israel’s cultural discourse and at the forefront of its artistic scene, making it instrumental in shaping the country’s cultural identity.