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The Knesset:
The Chagall State Hall


Knesset: Table of Contents | History & Overview | Historical Highlights


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The Chagall state hall is used for state receptions. The hall was designed and decorated by the Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Chagall designed for the hall 12 floor mosaics, one wall mosaic and three Gobelin tapestries.

The Tapestries

The tapestries were ordered in 1965 and were produced over a period of four years. The work is presented in the form of a triptych (a picture made up of three parts), in which each of the parts is both part of the whole and a separate unit. The three tapestries are large and were planned as an impressive colorful decoration for the reception hall. At the same time they were designed as a sort of concise and poetic expression to the fatefulness of the Jewish people.

The right hand tapestry describes Jacob's dream, the revelation of Mount Sinai, the sacrifice of Isaac - which is the first covenant between Israel and its God, and the prophecy of Isaiah: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah, 11:6).

The central tapestry expresses the connection between the people of Israel and its God with Eretz Yisrael, and the attachment of the people of Israel to the idea of the ingathering of the exiles. The central figure on this tapestry - Moses - is seen twice: During the giving of the Law and during the traveling of the people to the promised land. The tapestry describes various events from the history of the people of Israel in the diaspora, from the exit from Egypt to a description of the burning village, which symbolizes the Holocaust, as well as the priest Aaron, facing the seven branch candelabrum - representing the State. In addition King David is seen playing the harp, and behind him the bride - the virgin of Israel.

The left hand tapestry describes Jerusalem as the focus of the Jewish experience throughout its history. The three motifs in this tapestry are: The biblical motif emphasizing the image of David, Ruth, and Bo'az, and the story of the spies; the motif of the return to Zion in the new era, describing the pioneers and the building of the country; and the religious motif that deals with the Jewish holidays and the pilgrimage.

The Floor Mosaics

The floor mosaics were inlaid by a couple of Italian artists. The pieces of mosaic are scattered along the light marble floor, and are of non-geometric forms.

The mosaics are made of local stones, most of them of light colors, except for the black basalt.

The main subjects described in the mosaic are: birds - the symbol of joy and life; a hand stretched out in greeting; a calf - youth and innocence; candle sticks - a Jewish symbol reminiscent of the Sabbath candles; a horn and fish reminiscent of the Jewish holidays; a star of David and dovecot; the fruit of the land - symbol of fertility and plenty; flowers and the head of a rooster (common in the works of Chagall as a symbol of love).

The Wall Mosaic

The whole northern wall of the hall is covered with a large mosaic, which was inlaid by Italian artists. At the center appears the angel of redemption, who stretches out his arms to the Jewish people in the diaspora, as if calling it to return to its homeland. Eretz Yisrael is symbolized by the candelabrum. On the right hand side of the mosaic there are many human images watching the angel and the flow of immigrants to Eretz Yisrael. On the left hand side one sees the immigrants praying at the Western Wall. In the background there are hints of the structures of the Old City.


Sources: The Knesset

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