August 10 was World Lion Day….described as “the first global campaign to celebrate the importance of the lion worldwide. Since the dawn of man the lion has played an integral role in our lives: symbolically, religiously, culturally, economically and biologically.”
In honor of World Lion Day, we present a photo gallery of images of lions from synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and other Jewish sources.
As a symbol, the Lion — one of the most frequently mentioned animals in the Bible — plays a powerful role in Jewish tradition, and as such it figures frequently in the decoration of synagogues, Jewish gravestones, papercuts, and other items.
(A decade ago an exhibition at the Folk Art museum in New York, and a book by Murray Zimiles, focused on this. )
We used this lion, from a gravestone in Botosani, Romania, as the inspiration for our JHE logo:
Among other things, the Lion denotes strength, courage, and majesty — besides being the symbol of the ancient Hebrew Tribe of Judah.
The word for Lion in Hebrew and other languages became a popular name, too — Arieh, for example, and variations of Lev, Loeb, Leon….And it also figures as one of the four animals in the admonition from the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot ): “Be as strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, fleet as a hart, and brave as a lion to perform the will of thy Father who is in heaven.”