Exhibition dates

February 6 — August 11, 2019

Temple Emanu-El, 1 East 65th Street

Museum hours:  Sunday – Thursday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

For thousands of years, Jews used simple tapered wooden sticks to point the way through the densely written text of the Torah without touching the fragile parchment. But over the millennia, the yad — pointer — has developed into a unique art form. Some are still carved out of wood, but others are now shaped from silver or graphite, and even ornamented with gold, ivory and jewels.

The yad has thus become an artistic chronicle of how Jews read and relate to the Torah, a story you can explore in a wide-ranging exhibition of more than 200 pointers of all styles and national origins, some up to 400 years old. The display draws from the Barr Foundation, as well as Torah ornaments belonging to the Bernard Museum of Judaica at Temple Emanu-El.

To mark the opening of this exhibition, we will hold a moving processional of over 50 Torah scrolls from tri-state area synagogues to complement the first-ever New York gathering of scrolls from Czechoslovakia that survived the Holocaust, in partnership with Memorial Scrolls Trust of London. 

From the New York Jewish Week

Torahs As “Silent Witnesses” — Exhibition marks reunion of rescued scrolls from what is now the Czech Republic

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson and Bernard Museum Curator Warren Klein quoted in The New York Jewish Week in this article about the “reunion of rescued scrolls from what is now the Czech Republic”—a moving ceremony that launched the museum’s opening of The Guiding Hand: An Exhibition of Torah Pointers from Past to Present.

Artist: Anika-Smulovitz


Artist: Tom Herman


Artist: unknown – Padua, 1852


Artist: unknown – Poland, 1884


Artist: Marian Slepian