The Scroll of the Law
Menkes was born in Lviv, Poland, where he later studied at the Institute of Decorative Arts and at the Art Academy in Krakow before moving to Paris briefly in the 1920s. In 1922 he settled in Berlin studying under Archipenko before returning to Paris the following year and mixing with Chagall and other members of the École de Paris. He later returned briefly to Berlin and also visited Spain and frequently, Poland. In 1939 he immigrated to the United States and settled in Riverdale, New York.
The Scroll of the Law depicts the celebration of Simchat Torah, a joyous festival, when Jews celebrate the completion of the reading the Torah for the year, before starting again. During the morning service, two portions from the Torah are read: the final passage from Deuteronomy recounting the death of Moses, and the opening passage from Genesis which recounts the Creation. All the Torah scrolls in the synagogue are taken out of the ark where they are kept, and paraded around the synagogue seven times. It is customary for children to wave flags, and everyone sings and dances. Menkes’ lively brushwork captures the energy of the ceremony.