Spring is coming — or just about here — in the northern hemisphere. It’s a time of flowers.
Flowers and floral motifs are frequently used in Jewish decorative art, in synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. They provide symbolic representation of life and joy — but also of death, and often are seen used on gravestones to represent lives lost at a young age. (It’s noteworthy that Jewish cemeteries are often referred to as “Houses of Life.”) Sometimes these flowers are being plucked; sometimes the stalks of the blossoms are bent or broken. Sometimes the floral decorations echo local folk motifs.
We present here a photo essay of floral motifs — both in Europe and the U.S.A.: some of the images are from the old Coming Street Jewish cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, which JHE diretor Ruth Ellen Gruber recently visited. The cemetery was founded in 1754 and is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in the U.S. south.