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Matzo and Modern Art

From a Jonathan Adler Seder plate to a mezuzah that evokes the parting of the Red Sea, high-design Passover tchotchkes for your home

Stephanie Butnick
March 29, 2012

It’s not very often you see a mezuzah that stops you in your tracks. But Tamara Connolly has done just that with the striking Paschal mezuzah, part of her Kli “neo-ancient Judaica” collection. Bright white with a blood-red line down the middle, it is the perfect mezuzah for Passover, at once recalling the blood smeared upon the doorposts of Jewish homes before the last of the 10 plagues, as well as the later parting of the Red Sea during the Exodus from Egypt.

“I’m interested in the idea that these practices came to be because of things our ancestors came across,” Connolly explained. “The act of marking the doorway to protect the home is a very poetic gesture, and we see where that impulse came from in the story of Passover.” Kli, translated literally from the Hebrew, means vessel, and Connolly’s mezuzahs are just that—sparsely adorned modern vessels through which Jewish narrative themes are explored.

Connolly isn’t the only one getting inspired by Passover. From mod to magnetic, a range of designers are sprucing up the Seder with all sorts of funky wares, proving that Hanukkah doesn’t have to get all the fun stuff.

When it comes to innovative takes on traditional Jewish items, British designer Laura Cowan’s got you covered. Working from the Neve Tzedek artist quarter in Tel Aviv, Cowan produces quality Judaica inspired by outer space and nearby waters alike. Her Magnetic Matzo Plate is modeled after the view of yachts in the Tel Aviv harbor, and the changeable geometric form creates a visually stunning and entertaining centerpiece for any Passover table. For something a little more traditional, Michael Aram’s silver matzo plate offers a classic yet edgy design that incorporates the texture of the unleavened bread it was made to hold.

Jonathan Adler seems to have cornered the market on effortlessly chic Judaica that fits right in with his 1960s-themed designs, and his Futura Seder Plate is no exception. The white glazed porcelain plate features simple gold detailing and six slightly lowered circles, unmarked, for the Seder plate items. So glam yet nearly unrecognizable, it’s Adler Judaica at its best. (While you’re at it, plan ahead and pick up some porcelain dreidels—they’re on sale.)

Renee Vichinsky’s Ceramic Miriam’s Cup offers a bold take on the tradition of placing a cup of wine for Miriam, Moses’ sister, on the Seder table in addition to the cup for Elijah. The white glazed goblet says “Miriam” in large Hebrew letters along the side and looks fit for a queen. Rock on, ladies.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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