(Continued from last week)
While many of the designs were based on archeological findings of the day, and had not appeared on any poroches before, one design currently on the navy-blue Shabbos poroches (Picture #1) has been used at least three times. The original design was that of the Shabbos Mevorchim poroches in Frankfurt (Picture #2). At the bottom of the poroches were removable panels, where the month and day of the coming Rosh Chodesh could be inserted. In the 1950s, the design, without the panels, was replicated in a purple Shabbos poroches at KAJ. Some 30 years later when that poroches was not in useable condition anymore, it was once again duplicated as the navy-blue Shabbos poroches still in use today.
The shul’s scarlet-red Shabbos poroches with eagles on top (Picture #4) was originally designed to be used on Shabbos Mevorchim, with open panels in the center for the day and month, but at the end the donor decided not to use that design. It was subsequently taken over by another donor but now without the panels. The current Shabbos Mevorchim poroches is gray.
The overall designs for all the poroches donated to KAJ were always approved by Rab Breuer and later Rav Schwab. They also suggested any pesukim that would be included in the design, or, in one case, the lack thereof. The design on the green Shabbos poroches (Picture #3) is a depiction of the entrance to the Beis HaMikdosh. In consultation with Rav Breuer no posuk was affixed since the design speaks for itself. This resulted in this poroches also being used sometimes for non-Shabbos occasions, where a non-weekday poroches is appropriate, but not Shabbos related. The green mantels from this poroches, along with the dark green ones of Purim, augment those belonging with the green Yom Tov poroches (shown in the decorated shul last Shavuot), when on Simchas Torah, all the sifrei Torah come out in somewhat matching mantels.
I remember when the design by Mr. Gutmann of the Yom Kippur poroches that we donated had been completed, Mr. Gutman and I went to see Rav Breuer to obtain his suggestion for the posuk to fit the design. Without a second’s hesitation, Rav Breuer suggested “Lifneh Hashem Titoruh.” And it is that posuk that still to this day graces the poroches used at KAJ every Yom Kippur.
The newest poroches is only a few years old. It is the beautiful burgundy Shabbos poroches (Picture #5).
This minhag of the poroches dates back, as most of the minhagim at KAJ, to the early days, even before the construction of the Friedberger Anlage shul in Frankfurt. (It is this shul that I saw burn on Kristallnacht when my brother and I stopped on our way to school and saw the flames shooting out of the windows. I wrote about that in my book “My Stories.”)
My thanks and appreciation go to Mr. Avram Gutmann, son of the designer of many of the poroches, including the one we donated, for the information that I used in this article, which he kindly gave me permission to use.
By Norbert Strauss