Reference Guide

Here are some references that you might find useful in your journey to learn about Mezuzahs:

Belle Rosenbaum was an avid collector who donated her collection to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem where it is on display today. In 1995, she published a book on her collection and the artists in it called “Upon Thy Doorposts”. It is out of print but sometime available on Amazon, eBay or Abebooks for about $125 (original price was $250). The book covers about 100 mezuzah artists and their works.

Elaine and Norman Winik collected mezuzahs throughout their numerous visits to Israel and other Jewish communities and bequeathed the collection of 169 mezuzahs to OJMCHE in 2017.

Upon Thy Gates, The Elaine K. and Norman Winik Mezuzah Collection highlights a wide range of styles, materials, and symbolism in mezuzahs from around the world. Placing a mezuzah on the doorpost is among the most ancient of Jewish traditions. The mezuzah affixed to the doorpost signals that the space within is a Jewish household or institution. Many Jews understand the mezuzah to be a protective amulet, a symbolic guardian, indicating that God is watching over a structure. The doorpost frames the transitional space between inside and outside and the mezuzah must be fastened to the upper third of the doorpost on the right side with a simple ceremony of blessing accompanying its placement.

Elaine K. Winik’s deep passion and commitment to the Jewish people defined her life. An extraordinary and admired leader who inspired generations, Elaine followed in her father’s footsteps in service to the community and distinguished herself as the first female president of United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York.

Norman Winik graduated from Yale University in 1943. During the Second World War, he served in the Marine Corps as a captain. Elaine and Norman traveled the world, with numerous visits to Israel and other Jewish communities. Norman gave Elaine many of their treasured mezuzahs to commemorate their travels.

Norman passed away at the age of 87 in 2009. Elaine passed away in September 2017 at age 94. Elaine bequeathed her collection to the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education so it would be seen and appreciated by others.

Kenny Helphand, Elaine and Norman’s son-in-law worked with the Oregon museum to curate the exhibition. It is now on tour across the United States. Here is a link to a presentation that Kenny gave on March 22, 2023 when the exhibition came to the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York City:

The Museum has published a booklet on “Upon Thy Gates” which is available for $15 from the Museum giftshop. Email info@ojmche.org

For those of you who are academically inclined there is an article by Franz Landsberger who was at the Hebrew Union College on the origin of the decorated mezuzah. You can view it online for free at JSTOR.org

THE ORIGIN OF THE DECORATED MEZUZAH

FRANZ LANDSBERGERHebrew Union College Annual , Vol. 31 (1960), pp. 149-166 (18 pages)https://www.jstor.org/stable/23506541

Contribution from Hebrew Union College Press