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2016 Exhibition: The Chaplains of Living Together

The presence of armed soldiers in front of synagogues, mosques, churches, challenges us: what knowledge do the armed forces have of the beliefs of those who come to pray in these places of worship ? What are the links between these soldiers and religious life ?


Astonishing paradox, the French army, although in the service of a secular state, must legally ensure that each soldier can practice his religion. A review of the history of the various chaplaincies shows that their evolution over the centuries has followed that of society, sometimes with some delay, as evidenced by the late creation of the Muslim chaplaincy or the arrival of women in the various chaplaincies. .

The Judeo-Alsatian Museum in Bouxwiller, devoted to Jewish life in Alsace, is a privileged place for interreligious dialogue. The four military chaplaincies that coexist within the French army are presented in text, images and objects country.

In addition to the two essential functions of a military chaplain – advice to command and spiritual support to civilians and soldiers who so wish -  are mentioned the various and multiple aids provided by chaplains to soldiers and their families.

The chaplains of the various Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim denominations, assigned to the ‟ place de Strasbourg, have developed fraternal relations between them. Are they creating before our eyes, with respect for secularism, the desired model of ‟ vivre ensemble ” ?


The theme "Military chaplain today" was the subject of discussions bringing together chaplains from several faiths. 


Malou Schneider

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Jewish symbols and the symbolism of numbers in some paper cutouts:

2016 exhibition:

Canivets - a forgotten Jewish art


The exhibition on the canivets, could be presented thanks to the help and the collaboration andthe Association VALSIKE.


On their frequent Jewish cultural trips to Galicia (southeastern Poland and western Ukraine), several of their members were able to bring along a large collection of Jewish paper cutouts. These magnificent pieces come from the foothills of the Carpathians and use traditional Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David, the Memorah, or the symbolism of numbers.

Jewish paper cut-outs are a folk art that was once very widespread in Eastern Europe and closely linked to the religious practices of Judaism (holidays, weddings, births, protection, etc.). 

The first traces of this sacred artistic expression in Eastern Europe date from the 13th century. A legend even speaks of its origin: In the middle of winter, a courageous rabbi copied the Torah. But the winter was so freezing that the ink eventually froze, preventing the rabbi from continuing his hard work. In order not to waste time, the rabbi had an idea, cut out the letters of the Torah. And so was born the art of paper cutting.


The distribution of cut-outs intensified in the 18th and 19th centuries with the production of paper, commercial exchanges (between Jews and non-Jews), the influence of stained glass windows in churches, but above all that of matseyves, sculpted Jewish tombstones. . The Jewish paper cut-outs are a fragile and fine reflection of these.

This art was cultivated by men, often shoemakers or other craftsmen who had appropriate knives. After cutting, the paper was colored or glued white on a colored background. The carvings decorated the interiors of Jewish houses, mainly the walls facing Jerusalem, the Mizrah, the rooms of newborns or the windows. In the latter case, non-Jews easily recognized that Jewish houses or kratchmés (Jewish inns) were celebrating.

This decorative and functional art gradually disappeared with the spread of printed images at the beginning of the 20th century, but can still be seen in the 1920s in eastern Galicia, which is now western Ukraine.

Jewish cutout art was rescued from oblivion after the Holocaust in Israel, the United States and Poland. It is  an ethnographer, Giza Frenkel, originally from Lwow (Lemberg in Poland) and later a professor at the University of Haifa, who is at the origin of a whole school of cutouts.

Today, Piotr spends his rare free time cutting paper with the knife of a Jewish village shoemaker according to designs that come from the synagogues, Galician kloyzleh and matseyves of the region.

In Poland, this tradition continues with Anna Beiersdorf, Marta Golab, Monika Krajewska and Piotr Grzegorzyk.

The collection presented at the Judeo-Alsatian Museum was created by Piotr Grzegorzyk, curator at the Municipal Museum of Chrzanow, a city that once stood on the historic triple border between Galicia (the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Upper Silesia (Russia ) and Lower Silesia (Prussia). This private town had as its last owner a Polish Jew, Henryk Loewenfeld.

Piotr is a friend of VALISKE and a true guardian of the memory of the Jews of Chrzanow. The latter can also congratulate himself on having saved the city's Jewish cemetery from destruction.

The crown : according to Prike Avot “there are three crowns: the crown of the Law, the crown of priests and the crown of power, but the crown of the Good Name is superior to all the three preceding ones”. The crown symbolizes the Torah.

The tree : rest, mourning, Eden (broken trunk, fallen tree).

The palm tree : justice because “justice like the palm tree” in the Book of Psalms.

The Star of David  : modern symbol of Judaism, contemporary symbol of belonging to the Jewish people, symbol of Zionism, sign of anti-Semitic stigmatization of Jewish victims by their oppressors. Of kabbalistic origin, the hexagram represents, among other things, the union of two worlds, visible and invisible, celestial and terrestrial, feminine and masculine, etc. A Shabbatean, later Frankist symbol, " the Shield of David " later spread to Central Europe (Jewish communities in Bohemia and later in Hungary) and then to Eastern Europe, first in Hasidic siblings, then in traditional Orthodox and even Reform Jewish communities.

The eagle  : lightness.

2 : the Tables of the Law, the Shabbat.

3 : holiness.

The Holy of Holies occupied one third and the Holy Place two thirds of the entire Temple. The tapestries were ten times three yard long. There were three vessels for the offering, at the fire altar, the incense altar and the Ark.

The knight had three arms twice and each arm had three buttons.

The priest's blessing was made up of three parts and in the invocation of G‑d the word “holy” was repeated three times.

4 : the universe which included both Heaven and Earth (2X2). The number 4 connoted Heaven as the throne of Gd. The Holy of Holies was shaped like a cube and the Holy Place was a double cube in length. All vessels in the Temple of Jerusalem (except the candlestick) were rectangular. According to Ezekiel i.26-28, the number four symbolized divine revelation, while from Philo's point of view it was the number of perfect harmony.

The rooster : reconciliation.

The vine or the garnet : fertility.

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