For hundreds of years, Jews used simple tapered wooden sticks to point the way through the text of the Torah without touching the fragile handwritten animal-skin parchment surface. These pointers are called “yads” – literally the Hebrew word for hand יד) because of the miniature hands that are typically featured on the tip of the pointer. Yads are personal, individualized objects and have developed into a unique art form with great variety since there are no rules governing their form. Some are still carved out of wood, but historical yads can be splendid objects of silver or ivory. Others are now shaped from materials as diverse and unconventional as lucite, paper, graphite, porcelain or glass, some even ornamented with gold and jewels.
In addition to collecting pointers that represent the full range of elaborate historic forms, local collector Clay Barr has commissioned creative new yads from such contemporary artists as Tobi Kahn, Wendell Castle, and Albert Paley.“I wanted to inspire artists and craftsmen to create new Judaica,” says Barr. This exhibition promises to bring to life for all audiences the regular ritual encounter of Jews with the sacred text of the five books of Moses.
Support for the exhibition is provided by the Barr Foundation.