Congregation Marpe Lanefesch
To commemorate the safe return of Gavriel Wesel after four years in World War I of her husband, Miriam Wesel commissioned the embroidery of a Torah cover. The cover was then donated by the Wesel family to their synagogue "Marpe Lanefesch" located in Vienna's second district at Glockengasse 4. The Torah cover is about 31 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It is made of blue fabric lined in brown silk, with a design embroidered in gold. The image is of the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, before the eastern entrance of Solomon's Temple, the first temple in Jerusalem. The pillars, representing harmony and balance, are wrapped in a stylized acanthus leaf motif often used in Greek and Roman architecture. Atop each pillar is a lion rampant. The front paws of the lions support a large red and gold crown.
Mr. Wesel died in 1927 and is buried in Vienna at the Zentralfriedhof, 4. Tor. His three children and his widow successfully fled to the United States – the two sons, Alfred (born 1914) and Edmund (born 1921), fled Vienna before the November Pogrom in 1938 and currently reside in the United States. Mrs. Bauer, the youngest child and only daughter, and her mother, who lived across the street from the "Marpe Lanefesch" synagogue, did not escape Vienna until after the horrific events of November 1938. After their arrival in the United States, the Wesel family was instrumental in the establishment of a synagogue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The Torah cover was part of the Berger Collection at the Jewish Museum Vienna. Max Berger, a Holocaust survivor who returned to Vienna after World War II, actively bought Judaica in an effort to salvage what was left of Jewish life and culture in Europe. After his death in 1988, the City of Vienna purchased his entire collection for a museum it was planning to open in 1990—the Jewish Museum Vienna, where the Berger Collection was an early focal point and continues to be of central importance.
Recovered Works from the Congregation Marpe Lanefesch Collection