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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Rediscovering the art of the mezuzah through the eyes of a St. Louis born artist

Emily Rosenfeld, and some of her work.

For jewelry and Judaica designer Emily Rosenfeld, the enjoyment her customers find in her work is just as important to her as the work itself. The former St. Louisan, now living and working in Florence, Mass., has been creating her art for more than three decades. Her designs blend traditional Jewish symbols with contemporary aesthetics.

“I was born in U. City, lived at first in Creve Coeur where my grandparents lived, and went to school in Webster Groves,” said Rosenfeld. “I grew up feeling very Jewish and there’s a big Jewish community in St. Louis and my grandparents were a part of that.”

Rosenfeld’s family moved to California in 1976. After living on both coasts, she found her calling in making jewelry. She says her first work was “representational” of her customers, featuring lots of hearts and flowers and things people could identify and relate to.

“But my customers, many of whom were Jewish, were asking me for Stars of David and chais,” remembered Rosenfeld. “I started making those things and people responded very quickly and enthusiastically, which made me want to make more of it because I see jewelry as sort of like a Talisman, an adornment with power. We show who we are through what we wear and what more meaning can there be than having what you wear relate to your beliefs?”

Her collection grew to feature a diverse array of items from Shabbat candlesticks to kiddush cups, yads and menorahs, each crafted to evoke a sense of joy and spiritual connection. But it’s the mezuzah, which holds special meaning for Rosenfeld.

Rediscovering the mezuzah

A mezuzah consists of a small parchment scroll bearing sacred Hebrew verses from the Torah, specifically Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. Encased within a decorative holder, it is commonly mounted on doorposts (mezuzot) of Jewish households. This cherished item symbolizes faith and acts as a poignant reminder of Jewish heritage and identity.

“People adorn their homes with them,” said Rosenfeld. “They’re accessible. People feel good giving them and receiving them. Parents buy them for their children’s first houses. There are lots of rituals surrounding the home.”

It was this special connection that filled a creative niche for Rosenfeld who says she loves connecting with this important part of Jewish life by creating something new and contemporary.

“It was like having a renaissance. I love the idea of what the mezuzah means and the shapes I could come up with,” said Rosenfeld. “What a beautiful thing to have this piece of tradition that connects you to your faith, to G-d, to your home. That’s very powerful.”

Rosenfeld’s Mezuzah collections

Rosenfeld’s first mezuzahs were what she describes as sculpted work, which provided her with the artistic challenge of creating a piece of meaningful art, especially when it came to the Hebrew letter “shin.”

A mezuzah can be decorated in a variety of ways and often has the Hebrew letter shin on it, which is the first letter of one of God’s names, Shaddai.

“Do I include the shin, do I hide the shin? How do I make it part of the design so that it’s becoming part of a unified design element? I wanted it to be integrated into the design rather than applied to it,” said Rosenfeld.

This contemporary mezuzah represents making a life with your partner inside your faith.

One such example of the “shin” integrated into the design is the “Couple Mezuzah” which represents making a life with your partner inside your faith. You can see to figures reaching upward and supporting the “shin.”

In addition to her sculpted mezuzah collection, Rosenfeld has introduced two more.

“I evolved from the sculpted group to the line-drawn collection. I wanted these mezuzot to have the contemporary direction of the simple line drawn,” said Rosenfeld. “Then, most recently, I added the brass collection. People were always asking me about creating one, and I listened to what many of them were saying. So, I continue to evolve.”

Finding her work

While her work does appear occasionally around St. Louis, her entire collection of art including the rest of her Judaica and jewelry collections can be seen and purchased online, by visiting her website: EmilyRosenfeld.com

| RELATED: The story behind Berlin’s new massive Mezuzah




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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.