Guide to the Papers of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981),
1927-1995

Processed by Inna Giter and Dianne Ritchey Oummia

Yeshiva University Museum

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011

Phone: (212) 294-8330

Fax: (212) 294-8335

Email: YUMinquiries@cjh.org

http://www.yumuseum.org

© April 2002. Yeshiva University Museum. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Dianne Oummia as MSWord document. January 2002. Electronic finding aid converted to EAD 1.0 by Inna Giter. April 2002. Description is in English.
September 2004. Converted to ead 2002. Revised as LYWolpert02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.January 2006. Entities removed from EAD finding aid.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert
Title: Papers of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert
Dates:1927-1995
Abstract: The collection contains papers and artwork of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert, sculptor and designer of Jewish ceremonial objects. The collection includes clippings and publications about Wolpert's art, correspondence, personal documents, index cards, photographs, negatives, slides, sketches and paper models of objects Wolpert designed. Art work, such as sketches and models as well as photographs of art work constitute the larger part of this collection. The materials span 1927-1992 with the bulk of papers falling between the 1960s-1980s.
Languages:The collection is in English, Hebrew, and German.
Quantity: 3.9 linear feet
Accession number:
Repository: Yeshiva University. Museum
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Biographical Note

Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert was a sculptor and designer of Jewish ritual objects and was regarded as the first artist to integrate Hebrew lettering with silver ceremonial objects. He worked in a variety of materials in addition to silver—aluminum and other metals, glass, plastic, wood, and textiles.

Born in 1900 in Hildesheim, Germany, to a traditional Jewish family, Wolpert soon came to know and cherish his Jewish heritage. He developed an interest in art at an early age, and from 1916 until 1920, he studied sculpture in Frankfurt-am-Main's Kunstgewerbeschule, School for Arts and Crafts. After several years of independent work as a sculptor, he returned to the School of Arts and Crafts to study metalwork under a silversmith who had previously taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Leo Horowitz. It was then that Wolpert decided to devote himself to Jewish ceremonial art, applying the new trends of that time. In 1930 he created his first work with Hebrew lettering, a Passover plate for the Seder table, made from silver, ebony, and glass.

With the rise of Nazism in 1933, Wolpert went to Palestine. In 1935, he became a professor at the New Bezalel Academy for Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. His teaching stressed simplicity and functional purity of design, and influenced generations of Israeli artists and craftsmen.

In 1956, Drs. Abraham Kanof and Stephen Kaiser, impressed by Wolpert's work and his influence upon his students, invited him to the Jewish Museum in New York, where he established and was designated director of the Tobe Pascher Workshop, which is devoted to the creation of modern Jewish ceremonial art.

Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert was recognized in his time by the many commissions he received to create Judaica for synagogues, museums, and other public places, as well as from individuals to commemorate important personal events. His artistic creations include, among numerous others: a gold Hanukkah menorah for David Ben Gurion; the silver Torah case presented in 1948 to President Harry S. Truman by the first Israeli president, Chaim Weizmann (now in the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri); the Jewish section of the United States Air Force Academy chapel in Colorado Springs; and the entrance to the Jewish Chapel at John F. Kennedy Airport. His works have been displayed in Germany, Israel, and the United States.

In 1976 the Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago honored Wolpert with a Doctor of Hebrew Letters, in recognition of his contribution to the design and practice of Jewish art. In the same year, the Jewish Museum exhibited "Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert: A Retrospective." Wolpert remained in his position at the Tobe Pascher Workshop at the Jewish Museum until his death on November 6, 1981. He was succeeded in his work at the workshop by his students, Chava Wolpert Richard (his daughter), and Moshe Zabari.

CHRONOLOGY OF LUDWIG YEHUDA WOLPERT'S LIFE:

1900Born in Hildesheim, Germany
1916-1920Enrolled in the Kunstgewerbeschule, School of Arts and Crafts in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
1920Began working as an independent sculptor
1925-1928Returned to School of Arts and Crafts to study with silversmith Leo Horowitz
1930Created his first work with Hebrew lettering, a Passover plate
1933Left Germany for Palestine
1935Named Professor and Director of the New Bezalel Academy for Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem
1956Invited by Dr. Abraham Kanof and Dr. Stephen Kaiser to head the Tobe Pascher Workshop at the Jewish Museum
1976Given honorary Doctor of Hebrew Letters by Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago
1981Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert died on November 6, 1981
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Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the life and artistic career of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981), sculptor and designer of Jewish ceremonial objects. The collection includes clippings and publications about Wolpert's art, correspondence, personal documents, index cards, photographs, negatives, slides, sketches and paper models of objects Wolpert designed.

The papers span 1927-1992 with the bulk of materials falling between the 1960s-1980s. There are very few documents from the early part of Wolpert's life, when he was living in Germany, and from the 1930s-1940s, which he spent in Israel. The majority of documents pertain to Wolpert's life and work in the United States, at the Jewish Museum, from the late 1950s on. Most of the papers are in English, with a few clippings and other papers in Hebrew and German. The collection is organized in five series: Series I: Personal, Series II: General, Series III: Published Materials, Series IV: Index cards, Series V: Visual Materials.

The larger part of the collection focuses on Ludwig Wolpert's art and the remaining materials pertain to the artist's personal life. The collection contains numerous newspaper clippings and publications with articles about Ludwig Wolpert's artwork, as well as press releases and catalogs of Wolpert's art. Most of the clippings discuss individual objects designed by Wolpert. Some clippings include only photographs of Wolpert's art work as examples of ritual objects used during holidays or as awards at ceremonies of Jewish institutions, but do not contain any text about Wolpert's work. Most of the correspondence in the collection is also art related and includes inquires about Wolpert's work and letters of appreciation.

An extensive collection of photographs of Wolpert's artwork can be found in the Visual Materials series. These are reproductions of ritual and non-ritual objects that Wolpert designed, exteriors and interiors of synagogues, and photographs from exhibits. There are also negatives and slides depicting Wolpert's art. In addition, the collection contains original sketches for ritual objects, or parts of design for larger compositions, such as Hebrew letters and various symbols. Included are a few full size paper models of ritual objects.

Personal papers include biographical information, personal documents, and some correspondence. There is no family correspondence in the collection. Most of the personal letters are between Wolpert and his colleagues, and were sent on the occasion of Wolpert's birthdays. Visual materials include portraits of Wolpert, his wife Betty and daughter Chava, as well as group shots with colleagues. The larger part of the slides is also family related.

Yeshiva University Museum's collection includes ceremonial objects, drawings, busts, and maquettes for ceremonial objects and stained glass windows.

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Arrangement

The collection is organized in five series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
email: YUMinquiries@cjh.org

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Separated Material

Original metal artwork by Wolpert was separated from the archives and is a part of the Collection of Yeshiva University Museum.

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Provenance

Purchase from the Estate of Ludwig Wolpert.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert; box number; folder number; Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History. Please send two copies of any publication citing Yeshiva University Museum's material to the Collection Curator.

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Access points

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Container List

 

Series I: Personal, 1953-1995

0.2 linear feet
Arrangement:

Folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Content:

Series I consists of personal papers pertaining to Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert's life. It includes biographical information, correspondence, and personal papers.

Correspondence consists of personal and artwork related correspondence. The majority of the correspondence is with individuals, synagogues, and organizations concerning commissioned artwork by Ludwig Wolpert. There are letters of admiration and appreciation of his works, inquiries regarding prices and the status of completion of pieces of artwork. Among the correspondence are letters to Wolpert from the American Jewish Committee concerning a Ten Commandments piece they presented to Billy Graham, a letter from John V. Lindsay, former mayor of New York City, and a letter from the Council of Jewish Federations concerning a mezuzah made by Wolpert and seen by Menachem Begin on a visit with them. In addition, one letter from this folder by Rabbi Stephen A. Arnold was framed and contains a poem to Wolpert regarding a Kiddush Cup that Wolpert was repairing for him. Personal correspondence includes letters to and from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, letters concerning events in Wolpert's professional development, and a letter to Wolpert's wife, Betty, regarding his memorial.

Other papers include personal documents such as Wolpert's honorary diploma, an award, and Wolpert's Israeli passport. In addition, there is a prayer book presented to Wolpert by a Rabbi in the United States Armed Forces in gratitude for his work on the Jewish chapel.

BoxFolderTitleDate
11Artist-Craftsmen of New York Award1962
12Biographicalundated, 1968-1995
13Correspondence Concerning Artwork1953-1988
14Correspondence Concerning Ludwig Wolpert's Birthdays1976-1980
15Correspondence, Personalundated, 1953-1993
16Passport1951-1956
17Prayer Book1964
18Spertus College of Judaicaundated, 1976
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Series II: General, 1953-1986

0.2 linear feet
Arrangement:

Folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Content:

Series II is comprised of papers of a broad nature that pertain to Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert and his art.

This series consists mainly of documents that center on Wolpert's art as well as a few non-art-related items. They include invitations to attend Wolpert's exhibits, some material that was used in exhibits, as well as a list of biblical and prominent Jewish women, who were the focus of an exhibit by Wolpert and his daughter, Chava Wolpert Richard. Folders containing exhibit material can be found in three boxes due to the size and shape of the papers. (Oversized exhibit description panels are located in oversized box; a rolled banner used in exhibit is located in half-size box.)

Included are papers concerning Tsirl Waletzky, which discuss the use of paper-cuttings in Jewish religious art. In addition, there are also publications concerning work by Moshe Zabari, Wolpert's student and successor at the Tobe Pascher Workshop. One of the publications is inscribed and signed by Zabari, and was apparently sent to Betty, Wolpert's wife.

BoxFolderTitleDate
19Abschriften von Besprechungenundated
110Collection Informationundated
111Dedications, Programs, Dinners1959-1990
112Exhibit Materialundated, 1966-1991
113A History of Jewish Art1946
114In Memoriam: Pictures of Destroyed Synagogues[1961-1962]
115Jewish Paper Cutsundated
116Juedische Museum, Berlinundated, 1933-1946
117Menorahundated
118Photocopies of Pictures of Artwork with Notationsundated
119Press Releasesundated, 1953
120Shabbat Manuscript for Mendelssohnsundated
121Zabari, Moshe1976-1986
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Series III: Published Materials, 1950-1992

0.4 linear feet + 4 oversized folders
Arrangement:

Clippings are arranged chronologically; publications are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Content:

Series III consists of catalogs, clippings, excerpts from books, and other publications. The bulk of the material is from the 1960s-1980s. A small amount of printed material is from Germany and Israel, but the vast majority is from the United States.

Catalogs comprise one folder and contain lists with photos and descriptions of various artworks by Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert featured in exhibitions at museums and galleries. Clippings and publications consist of originals and photocopies of newspaper and magazine clippings, which discuss or display Wolpert's art. Excerpts include a few pages of an article from A History of Jewish Art, and a few pages from a guide to the collection of the Juedische Museum in Berlin. Of particular interest are the publications intended for young Jewish readers, which introduce them to Wolpert's art through articles on ritual objects that feature photographs of Wolpert's art in Keeping Posted: Great Jewish Aspirations, Our Age, World Over: A Magazine for Youth, and an article written in Hebrew. Our Age and World Over also contain biographical articles about Wolpert. There is a single article written by Wolpert from the Catholic Art Quarterly, which discusses the inspiration for his work.

BoxFolderTitleDate
122Catalogsundated, 1964-1981
BoxFolderTitleDate
21Clippingsundated
22Clippings1949
23Clippings1950-1959
24Clippings1961-1969
25Clippings1970-1979
26Clippings1980-1987
27Clippings1990-1991
28Publications, Assortedundated, 1959-1991
29Publications: Brooklyn Jewish Center Review 1957
210Publications: The Catholic Art Quarterly1958
211Publications: Expo 67, Pavilion of Judaism1967
212Publications: Publications for Young Peopleundated, 1960-1963
213Publications: The Jewish Museum.undated, 1990-1992
214Publications: The Jewish Theological Seminary of Americaundated, 1971-1987
215Publications: Judaic Heritage Societyundated, 1973
216Publications: Our World1982
217Publications: The Reconstructionist 1982
218Publications: United Synagogue Review 1976
219Publications: Women's League Outlook1976
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Series IV: Index Cards, 1946-1990

0.5 linear feet
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by name.

Scope and Content:

Series IV is comprised of index cards and a few scraps of paper that list addresses of Wolpert's contacts, as well as a few business cards. The index cards are handwritten, and list individuals or Jewish institutions as well as art pieces which the individual or institution purchased or commissioned from Wolpert and dates.

Box TitleDate
3 Index Cardsundated
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Series V: Visual Materials, 1927-1980

2.8 Linear Feet
Arrangement:

The series is arranged by format. Folders within series are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Content:

Series V is organized in five subseries: Subseries 1: Photographs, undated, 1927-1980; Subseries 2: Negatives, undated; Subseries 3: Sketches, undated; Subseries 4: Slides, 1963-1986;Subseries 5: Models, undated

This series consists of nearly 600 photographs (black-and-white and color), a photoalbum, over 100 large negatives, a number of loose rolls of negatives and contact sheets; 550 slides; and paper sketches and models of Wolpert's work. The series includes a box of oversized photographs and a box of oversized sketches and models.

About 90% of the photographs are of Wolpert's artwork. Included are also various portraits of Wolpert with family, with colleagues and at work. Portraits span from ca.1927 to 1980. A few persons identified are Wolpert's wife Betty, his daughter Chava Wolpert Richard, and Wolpert's colleague Moshe Zabari.

Photographs of the artwork are subdivided into photographs of non-ritual objects and ritual objects. Non-ritual objects include sculptures, lamps, and designs of railings and window grates. Photographs of ritual objects are organized by type of object and include various designs for temples' interiors and exteriors, as well as ceremonial dishes and other ritual objects for Passover, Shabbat, Hanukkah, and Rosh ha-Shanah. There are often several photographs of the same object; some of the duplicates differ in size or color. Most of the artwork is not dated, but the bulk of it seems to be from the 1960s-1970s. Unidentified artwork as well as photographs of many different objects exhibited are included in the folder ‘Exhibits, mixed objects'. In addition the series includes one photo album with photographs from the 1976 Jewish Museum exhibit.

The series also contains negatives for about 40% of the represented photographs. Most of the negatives are of artwork, but there are also a few personal shots, and 1 roll with shots from an exhibition, including group portraits and artwork. There are many duplicates among the negatives.

Slides fall into two major categories: personal and artwork. The personal collection consists of slides taken on various trips of Wolpert and his wife from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Most of the slides document trips to Switzerland in different years, and there is also a small group of slides from Israel. In addition, there are a number of family portraits taken on the Long Island area of New York State in the 1980s. The artwork section documents installations of Wolpert work and interiors of temples designed by Wolpert. There are nearly 150 sketches in the collection. Most of the sketches are pen or pencil drawings on thin paper representing different stages of object design. They are organized by type of object, and the categories mirror those of the Photographs subseries. There are several paper cut-outs of Hebrew letters. Some of the sketches are not drawn but outlined with tape. Included are also a few full-scale models of objects, created with tape and pencil on paper, and one three-dimensional paper model. Many of the sketches are in poor condition: multiple folds, many tears on thin paper.

Yeshiva University Museum's collection includes ceremonial objects, drawings, busts, and maquettes for ceremonial objects and stained glass windows.

Subseries 1: Photographs, 1927-1980

Box TitleDate
4 Photo Album1978
BoxFolderTitleDate
51Exhibit1961
52Memorialsundated
53Mixed Objectsundated, 1930-1958
54Non-Ritual Objects: Busts, Torsoundated
55Non-Ritual Objects: Lampsundated, 1927
56Non-Ritual Objects: Railings, Window Grates, Doors, Wallsundated, 1935-1936
57Non-Ritual Objects: Sculptures: Shalom and Lechu Sculpturesundated, 1957
58Non-Ritual Objects: Vasesundated, 1958
59Portraits: Group Shots with Wolpertundated, 1970
510Portraits: Group Shots without Wolpert1959
511Portraits: Unidentified Boyundated, 1977
512Portraits: Wolpertca. 1939-1980
513Portraits: Wolpert at workca. 1949-1973
514Portraits: Wolpert with wifeundated, 1966-1969
515Ritual: Burning Bushundated
516Ritual Objects: Candleholders, Candlabras1958
517Ritual Objects: Eternal Lightsundated, 1958
518Ritual Objects: Menorahs (Synagogue and Hanukkah)undated, 1923-1979
519Ritual Objects: Mezuzahsundated
520Ritual Objects: Mizrach1957
521Ritual Objects: Passover: Seder Dishes1930-1937
522Ritual Objects: Plate for the Redemption of the Firstborn1947
523Ritual Objects: Rosh Ha-Shanah: Honey Dishundated
524Ritual Objects: Shabbat: Haudalah Sets, Bread Trays, Otherundated, 1947-1948
525Ritual Objects: Shabbat: Kiddush Cupsundated
BoxFolderTitleDate
61Ritual Objects: Sukkoth: Ethrog Boxundated
62Ritual Objects: Torah Arks, Ten Commandmentsundated, 1976
63Ritual Objects: Torah Ornaments: Breastplates, Crowns, Headpieces, etc.undated, 1932-1976
64Ritual Objects: Tree of Lifeundated
65Strickwarenfabrik, L. Wolpertundated
66Temples, Interiors, Exteriorsundated
67Views, New Yorkundated
68Works by Other Artists (Kelly and Gruzen: Temple Emanu-el) Englewood, New Jerseyundated

Subseries 2: Negatives, undated

BoxFolderTitleDate
69Burning Bushundated
610Candleholdersundated
611Collection of Work, Mixed Objectsundated
612Eternal Lightsundated
613Exhibitundated
614Kiddush Cupsundated
615Memorialsundated
616Menorahsundated
617Mezuzothundated
618Passover: Plates, Seder Dishesundated
619Plate for the Redemption of the Firstbornundated
620Portraitsundated
621Railings, Doorsundated
622Shabbat Dishesundated
623Sukkot: Ethrog Boxundated
624Temples: Interiors, Exteriorsundated
625Torah Arks, Ten Commandmentsundated
626Torah Ornaments: Crowns, Breastplates, Headpieces, etc.undated
627Twelve Tribesundated
628Negatives and contact sheetsundated

Subseries 3: Sketches, undated

BoxFolderTitleDate
71Burning Bushundated
72Candle Holdersundated
73Eternal Lightsundated
74Hebrew Text Designundated
75Kiddish Cupsundated
76Menorahsundated
77Mezuzahsundated
78Mixed Objectsundated
79Torah Arks, Ten Commandmentsundated
710Torah Ornamentsundated
711Torah Shieldsundated
712Tree of Lifeundated
713Twelve Tribesundated

Subseries 4: Slides, 1963-1986

BoxFolderTitleDate
81Artwork: Belroseundated
82Artwork: Bnai Jacob, Woodbridge, ConnecticutFebruary 1963
83Artwork: Englewoodundated
84Artwork: Livingston, New Jerseyundated
85Artwork: Mixed Objectsundated
86Artwork: Princeton, Jewish Center for Jewish Historyundated
87Artwork: Wolpert's Installation, Hebrew Union College, Skirball Museumundated
88Personal: Bad Ragaz1971
89Personal: Bad Ragaz, Kurpark, Giessenpark1978
810Personal: Clare and Family, Murg1980
811Personal: Israel1970, 1977
812Personal: Lincolndaleundated
813Personal: Linzundated
814Personal: New Rochelleundated
815Personal: Switzerland1974
816Personal: Switzerland1978
817Personal: Washington1978
818Personal: Wolpert's 70th Birthday1970

Subseries 5: Models, undated

OVERSIZED
BoxFolderTitleDate
Burning Bush (OS 1)
Menorah (OS 1)
Ten Commandments (OS 1)
Three dimensional model: Menorah (OS 2)
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ROLLED ITEMS, various dates

BoxFolderTitleDate
91General: Exhibit Materialsundated
92Sketches: Hebrew Text Designundated
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OVERSIZED MATERIALS, various dates

BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 11General: Exhibit Materialundated
OS 12Printed Material: Clippings, Federation Campaign Report1968
OS 13Printed Material: Clippings, Wiedergutmachung1956
OS 14Printed Material: Publications about Israelundated, 1956
OS 15Printed Material: Publications, The Jewish Museum1984-1993
OS 16Visual Material: Models: Burning Bushundated
OS 17Visual Material: Models: Menorahundated
OS 18Visual Material: Models: Ten Commandmentsundated
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OVERSIZED MATERIALS: SKETCHES, various dates

BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 21Sabbath Candelabraundated
OS 22 Three Dimensional Model: Menorahundated
OS 23Burning Bushundated
OS 24Candle Holdersundated
OS 25Hebrew Text Designundated
OS 26Kiddush Cupsundated
OS 27Menorahsundated
OS 28Mixed Objectsundated
OS 29Seder Platesundated
OS 210Temple Doorsundated
OS 211Torah Arks, Ten Commandmentsundated
OS 212Torah Ornaments, Torah Crownsundated
OS 213Torah Shieldsundated
OS 214Tree of Lifeundated
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OVERSIZED MATERIALS: PHOTOGRAPHS, undated

BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 31Burning Bushundated
OS 32Candleholderundated
OS 33Lechu Sculptureundated
OS 34Memorials: Genizah, Bellerose Jewish Center, Floral Park, NJundated
OS 35Menorahsundated
OS 36Railings: Mechitzah, Sons of Israel Synagogue, Lakewood, NJundated
OS 37Shalom Sculptureundated
OS 38Portraits - Wolpertundated
OS 39Temples: Exteriors, Interiorsundated
OS 310Temples: Exteriors, Interiors: Temple Emmanuel, Great Neck, Long Island, NYundated
OS 311Torah Ark Doorsundated
OS 312Torah Ormnaments: Torah Crownundated
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