Jewish Heritage Europe

Zodiac Signs & the Four Symbolic Animals in Synagogue Art

Two popular decorative motifs in East European synagogues were depictions of the wheel of the Zodiac and of the four animals in the enjoinder in the Pirkei Avot, or Ethics of the Fathers: “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, fleet as a deer and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven.” 

This gallery highlights some of the examples that are still found in synagogues today. (Note — sometimes a tiger is pictured, instead of a leopard!)

Submit your own photos to add to the gallery!