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November 14, 2011

The South African-born, San Francisco-based architect Stanley Saitowitz is no stranger to the intersection of Judaism and design. His firm, Natoma Architects Inc., is responsible for synagogues in San Francisco and La Jolla, California, as well as the New England Holocaust Memorial on Boston's Freedom Trail. His latest work in this rich vein is a collection of ritual objects now on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. "Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica" runs through October 2012 and shows the architect stripping away centuries of accreted ornamentation, filigree, and schmaltz from 13 objects of Jewish worship. "These objects are the instruments of ritual and I designed them to be stripped of sentiment, which I don't believe provides much comfort anyway." Check out the collection and do make it to the show if you pass through San Francisco.

The <i>yad</i> is a pointer used in reading from the Torah. It's one of the few public, that is, not used in the home, objects in the collection. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Yad, 2011, nickel and resin, .5 x 9 inches.  Artist rendering. Fabrication b
The yad is a pointer used in reading from the Torah. It's one of the few public, that is, not used in the home, objects in the collection. Stanley Saitowitz, Yad, 2011, nickel and resin, .5 x 9 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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The <i>tzedakah</i> box is for alms, the required caring for of the less fortunate. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Tzedakah Box, 2011, nickel and resin, 3 x 3 x 7 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist
The tzedakah box is for alms, the required caring for of the less fortunate. Stanley Saitowitz, Tzedakah Box, 2011, nickel and resin, 3 x 3 x 7 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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Here's Saitowitz's seder plate. "We have some really ugly Judaica," he told me when we spoke about the show. "I wanted to make objects that would feel right on my glass table with Chilewich placemats."
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Stanley Saitowitz, Seder Plate, 2011, ni
Here's Saitowitz's seder plate. "We have some really ugly Judaica," he told me when we spoke about the show. "I wanted to make objects that would feel right on my glass table with Chilewich placemats." Stanley Saitowitz, Seder Plate, 2011, nickel and resin, 20 x 7.5 x 1 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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This pair of shabbat candles is a prime example of the spare, industrial aesthetic of the collection. Much of the impetus behind the Judaica series is to find the rational, formal essence of the object. Saitowitz said that the collection "purifies the cer
This pair of shabbat candles is a prime example of the spare, industrial aesthetic of the collection. Much of the impetus behind the Judaica series is to find the rational, formal essence of the object. Saitowitz said that the collection "purifies the ceremonies in its purity." Stanley Saitowitz, Shabbat Candlesticks, 2010, chrome plated steel, 8.5 x 4.5 x 8.75 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by MG Mcgrath. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian McGanty.
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The <i>Netilat Yadayim</i> cup is used for ritual handwashing. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Netilat Yadayim Cup, 2011, nickel and resin, 3 x 3 x 4 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
The Netilat Yadayim cup is used for ritual handwashing. Stanley Saitowitz, Netilat Yadayim Cup, 2011, nickel and resin, 3 x 3 x 4 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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The <i>rimonim</i> are endcaps for the Torah, and are outfitted with bells that jingle as the Torah is carried around. The Hebrew word "rimonim" means "pomegranate."
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Stanley Saitowitz, Rimonim, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 5 x 5 x 10 inches
The rimonim are endcaps for the Torah, and are outfitted with bells that jingle as the Torah is carried around. The Hebrew word "rimonim" means "pomegranate." Stanley Saitowitz, Rimonim, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 5 x 5 x 10 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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The <i>mezuzah</i> holds a tiny Torah scroll and is affixed to the door frame of a Jewish home. Saitowitz was quick to discuss how Judaism has an uncommon comfort with abstraction, thus the ease with which he fits ritual objects into a modernist idiom. "C
The mezuzah holds a tiny Torah scroll and is affixed to the door frame of a Jewish home. Saitowitz was quick to discuss how Judaism has an uncommon comfort with abstraction, thus the ease with which he fits ritual objects into a modernist idiom. "Concepts govern our laws and actions," he says. Stanley Saitowitz, Mezuzah, 2010, chrome plated aluminum, 1.5 x .375 x 4.5 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by MG Mcgrath Inc. Courtesy of the artist.
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The <i>etrog</i> box holds a Middle Eastern fruit, one that is used in the harvest holiday Sukkot. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Etrog Box, 2011, nickel and resin, 3.5 x 5.5 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy o
The etrog box holds a Middle Eastern fruit, one that is used in the harvest holiday Sukkot. Stanley Saitowitz, Etrog Box, 2011, nickel and resin, 3.5 x 5.5 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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This <i>kiddush cup</i> is meant to be passed around for person to person, thus the series of handles on the base. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Kiddush Cup, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 3 x 3 x 7 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Ca
This kiddush cup is meant to be passed around for person to person, thus the series of handles on the base. Stanley Saitowitz, Kiddush Cup, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 3 x 3 x 7 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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This Havdalah set is a further expression of what we see in the Kiddush cup, "contemporary expressions of ancient objects," according to Saitowitz. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Havdalah Set, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 13 x 3 x 8 inches. Artist ren
This Havdalah set is a further expression of what we see in the Kiddush cup, "contemporary expressions of ancient objects," according to Saitowitz. Stanley Saitowitz, Havdalah Set, 2011, nickel, brass and resin, 13 x 3 x 8 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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The menorah is the oldest of the objects in the line. It's actually been on sale at the Contemporary Jewish Museum's gift shop for years. 

Stanley Saitowitz, Menorah, 1995, stainless steel, 16.5 x 4.5 x 8.75 inches. Fabrication by Natoma Architects. Cour
The menorah is the oldest of the objects in the line. It's actually been on sale at the Contemporary Jewish Museum's gift shop for years. Stanley Saitowitz, Menorah, 1995, stainless steel, 16.5 x 4.5 x 8.75 inches. Fabrication by Natoma Architects. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian McGanty.
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Here's a box for the matzah during the Passover seder. The form is decidedly geometric, something Saitowitz took from the Second Commandment's prohibition of figurative objects, the worship of idols. 

Stanley Saitowitz, Matzah Plate, 2011, nickel and res
Here's a box for the matzah during the Passover seder. The form is decidedly geometric, something Saitowitz took from the Second Commandment's prohibition of figurative objects, the worship of idols. Stanley Saitowitz, Matzah Plate, 2011, nickel and resin, 7.5 x 7.5 x 1 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.
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The only object in the collection to be made of cloth, this challah cover rests over the loaf of bread to "hide" it while the kiddush prayer is recited over the wine. 
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Stanley Saitowitz, Challah Cover, 2011, wool yarn, 18 x 12 inches. Artist
The only object in the collection to be made of cloth, this challah cover rests over the loaf of bread to "hide" it while the kiddush prayer is recited over the wine. Stanley Saitowitz, Challah Cover, 2011, wool yarn, 18 x 12 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.

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The <i>yad</i> is a pointer used in reading from the Torah. It's one of the few public, that is, not used in the home, objects in the collection. 
<br /><br />
Stanley Saitowitz, Yad, 2011, nickel and resin, .5 x 9 inches.  Artist rendering. Fabrication b
The yad is a pointer used in reading from the Torah. It's one of the few public, that is, not used in the home, objects in the collection. Stanley Saitowitz, Yad, 2011, nickel and resin, .5 x 9 inches. Artist rendering. Fabrication by Dupliform Casting Company. Courtesy of the artist.

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