A Torah Shrine (Ehal) contains the Torah scrolls of a synagogue and is located on the eastern wall facing the direction of Jerusalem. At Etz Hayyim, the original Torah Shrine was lost when the synagogue was looted following the arrest of the community in 1944. However, the approximate measurements and location of the shrine were rediscovered during the restoration process in the mid-1990s. Several socket holes of the original shrine where found, as well as evidence of the existence of a tribune that had separated it from the congregation.
The Ehal is situated on the east wall underneath two arched windows. It comprises a large teak cabinet placed on its head. Its legs are ornately carved and fitted with a handmade parohet (curtain). Above the Ehal is a carved wooden tablet of the Ten Commandments that are represented by the first ten letters of the Hebrew alphabet equalling the numbers one to ten.
Inside the Ehal are two Torah scrolls: an Egyptian Torah from Cairo that was a personal gift to the Director of Etz Hayyim, Nikos Stavroulakis, and another scroll from Eastern Europe loaned from the London-based, Memorial Scrolls Trust.
As in every synagogue, a Ner Tamid (eternal light) is hung above the tribune in front of the Ehal at EtzHayyim. The Ner Tamid at Etz Hayyim consists of an original Venetian glass lamp suspended within a finely-made bronze Magen David (Star of David) with six amber pendants. It is commonly associated with the menorah, the seven-branched lamp, as well as with the continuously burning incense altar inside the Temple in Jerusalem. It is viewed as a symbol of G-d’s eternal and imminent presence within the community.
Photo 1: © Manousos Daskologiannis
Photo 2: © Etz Hayyim Synagogue
Photo 3, 4, 5: © Anastasios Skikos