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Shul artist weaves memory of her late husband
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Shul artist weaves memory of her late husband

Emanu-El adorns ark with work recalling a ‘maverick’ soul

In the course of her career, textile artist Ina Golub has created Judaica items for 40 synagogues around the country, including 12 ark curtains, 450 Torah mantles, tapestries, beaded Havdala spice containers, and many others.

But none has been quite as meaningful for her as the project that was unveiled on Friday evening, June 22, at Temple Emanu-El, the Reform synagogue in Westfield.

The ark curtain and two Torah scroll covers, part of the renovation of the temple’s Brody Chapel, were created in memory of Golub’s husband, Herb, who died two years ago. His funeral was held two years ago to the day, June 22, 2010.

Herb Golub was a music professor at Kean University. Ina, who a few years ago also created the ark curtain and Torah covers used in the temple’s main sanctuary, worked closely with the congregation’s leader, Rabbi Douglas Sagal, to come up with a curtain design representative of the man and his passions.

They chose to highlight a line from Psalm 28:4. “Sing out to the Lord, all the earth.”

“It was not only appropriate for Herb, but it is a verse sung on Shabbat all over the world,” Sagal said.

Against a background of crackled Belgian linen, the design has Hebrew lettering laid out over a circle composed of rich shades of brown and purple, softened by an overlay of glistening mesh. “I wanted it to be ethereal and earthy, with a luminescence,” Ina explained. “I wanted a design that embodied our heritage and music and that reflected Herb’s maverick ways and his elegant, sensitive soul.”

The Golubs joined the congregation about 20 years ago. In an interview on Friday morning, Ina told NJ Jewish News that she planned to tell a story that night that those who knew Herb would find perfectly characteristic of him.

In 1978, as she was packing in preparation for a weekend trip to Washington to celebrate their 15th anniversary, he called from Kean to tell her to stop; they were to go the following weekend instead. “I insisted he explain why,” she said. “He told me he had heard that Vladimir Horowitz was going to be playing at the White House at an event marking the golden jubilee of his arrival in the United States.

“Herb wrote to President Jimmy Carter and told him that, if his guest list was not yet filled, as a professor of music he would very much like to attend. And the White House had sent us two tickets.” As her husband’s health declined, trips like that became rare, but that one occasion stands out as very special, she said. They were surrounded by some of the greatest musicians of the time.

In a welcome twist of fate, just two weeks ago, Golub got to see a video of her and Herb at that concert. She is selling their piano and, in talking to a prospective buyer, she mentioned having seen Horowitz play. The buyer told her she’d seen the White House performance on the Internet, and directed her to the video — which shows them both clearly.

“It felt very beshert, part of this whole process of paying tribute to Herb,” she said. “It has been a very emotional time.”

It has also been part of a closure process, she said. And as so often happens, with that comes new beginnings. Golub has just been commissioned to do work for Temple Sholom in Chicago. “I’m excited about it,” she said. “It’s the largest Reform congregation in the city.”

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