When Sol Chadowitz was asked to design the ner tamid, or eternal flame, for the synagogue at the new Hadassah hospital tower in Israel, an idea quickly came to him.
“I thought of some type of heart,” the Edison Judaica artist told NJJN. “That was the basic premise of my design because all Jews have a heart in Jerusalem.”
Brass flames now rise from a blown-glass and brass heart that hangs in the Moshe Saba Masri Synagogue at the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at Hadassah-Ein Kerem.
In October, Chadowitz and his wife, Berenice, along with several members of their synagogue — Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen — went to Israel for a small dedication ceremony, which came at the end of Hadassah’s centennial anniversary convention in Jerusalem.
“I didn’t want a full-blown thing,” said Chadowitz. “It wasn’t necessary as far as I was concerned.”
As with his other recent projects, he donated the ner tamid to the hospital, which approached him at the suggestion of Barbara Spack of Edison, Hadassah’s national communications and marketing chair.
Crafting the lamp took almost five months.
“Because I don’t charge, I can pick and choose projects that interest me,” Chadowitz said. “I’ve done some commission jobs and found that people don’t appreciate the time and effort that goes into these projects.”
Chadowitz, a native of Zimbabwe who has been a member of Neve Shalom for 36 years, retired 19 years ago as a towel and bathrobe manufacturer. He began sculpting over 25 years ago after attending a workshop at The Jewish Museum in New York led by Israeli artist Moshe Zabari.
“I attended his classes for many years,” recalled Chadowitz. “He was my mentor. He’s back in Israel now, but he and I remain good friends.”
Chadowitz is a silversmith and metal artist, whose work, including the ner tamid at Neve Shalom, graces Jewish institutions all over the world. He designed the ner tamid at Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah in Clark and at the Reconstructionist synagogue in Munich, where his daughter’s family are members. He also designed silver ornamental Torah items for the German shul.
Back when the price of silver was “reasonable,” Chadowitz said, he designed Torah crowns and breast plates, candlesticks, mezuzas, and Havdala boxes.
A sculpture designed by Chadowitz stands at the entrance to the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County offices in South River. The work depicts two hands encircling a shekel, and is inscribed with the Hebrew words for giving and receiving.
Spack and her husband, Eliot, were among the Neve Shalom members present at the dedication ceremony. Also joining in was Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of the Hadassah office in Israel. Her late husband, Mordecai, served for many years as cantor at Neve Shalom.
“I feel very fortunate I can see a Sol Chadowitz ner tamid every week in my own synagogue as well as when I go to Jerusalem,” said Spack. “It gives me a very special warm feeling.”