Long Island, The Jewish Week
November 20-26, 1992
By Meryl Ain
A PASSION FOR ART that turned into a successful business 25 years ago has become a “labor of love” for a South Huntington mother of two, who will witness the weekend of Nov. 20-21 the dedication of ark doors she crafted for Temple Beth Sholom in Smithtown.
“After all the years of commercial success, it is so special to create something for a sanctuary where people go for comfort, strength and inspiration,” said fibre artist Barbara Barron.
With the help of the synagogue’s board and rabbi, Elliot Spar, Barron created the ark cover (parochet) that is fastened to a sliding wooden door. The centerpiece of the design is a tree representing the tree of life to which the Torah has been compared. The word “Kedusha” (Holiness) is embroided above the tree. Below are the first three words of the prayer, “Aytz Chaim He” (It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it).
In the middle of the tree is a seven-branched candelabrum, whose red tips indicate that they are aglow. That part of the tree is dark to symbolize the strength of God’s rays that filter through its outer branches.
Two doves of peace are in flight above the tree, and each is trailed by a rainbow of colors. Flowers that were initially on the bottom of the ark cover were removed because the artist said they detracted from the design.
The work, which is made of fiber, was ready in time for Roth HaShanah. It is eight feet tall and six feet wide.
Barron was asked to design the ark cover after Natalie Weinstein, a member of Temple Beth Sholom who has her own design firm, saw another ark cover Barron made five years ago for her own synagogue, Kehillath Shalom in Cold Spring Harbor.
“I did lots of research for those ark doors,” said Barron.
She said she went to the Jewish Museum and elsewhere to find primitive renditions of what ark covers looked like over the centuries, then used those ideas to develop “something contemporary”.
Barron said she made sketches for approval by the board and rabbi and worked all summer to create it. She is in business with her two children, Ruth and Steve, and said they collaborated with her. In fact, she said, Ruth did much of the work.
The ark cover will be dedicated to the memory of Barron’s father-in-law, Ted Barron, during Friday night services Nov. 20 at Temple Beth Sholom, which begin at 8:30. The services will be held jointly with Barron’s congregation, and its spiritual leader, Rabbi Arthur Schwartz, will deliver the sermon.
Barron said she was not trained as an artist and that her first job was as an elementary school teacher. But art – especially embroidery and needlepoint – was her “passion and hobby”.
Once she sold a macrame plant hanger to Bloomingdale’s a quarter century ago, she became hooked and started a business in her basement. She later rented commercial space and is now at 1943 New York Ave., Huntington Station.
Barron creates one-of-a-kind wall hangings for commercial and residential customers. She has sold her works in fibre all over the world for as much as $25,000.
Her interest in creating works of Jewish art developed after she was one of eight women in her synagogue who studied with Schwartz and learned how to read and write Hebrew. That led to the group’s bar mitzvah and Barron’s creation of an ark cover for Kehillath Shalom.