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Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert

WOLPERT, LUDWIG YEHUDA (1900–1981), German sculptor and designer. Wolpert was born in Hildesheim, Germany, the son of an Orthodox rabbi. In 1916 he went to Frankfurt-on-the-Main, where he studied at the School for Arts and Crafts until 1920. After a few years working as a sculptor, Wolpert registered again at the school and specialized in metalwork. His teachers, among others, were the Bauhaus artist Christian Dell and the silversmith, sculptor, and designer of Judaica Leo Horovitz, son of the Orthodox rabbi Marcus *Horovitz. Under the guidance of Leo Horovitz, Wolpert became involved in creating modern Jewish ceremonial art. His famous Passover set, created in 1930, is made out of silver, ebony, and glass (replica in the Jewish Museum, New York; the original is lost) and reveals the strong influence of the Bauhaus designers of the late 1920s who worked under the slogan "form follows function." The same concept also guided the creation of a modern set of Torah silver commissioned by the family of Reuben Hecht for the Orthodox Frankfurt synagogue at the Friedberger Anlage, which was destroyed in 1938. Before Wolpert emigrated to Palestine in 1933, some of his works were shown in the exhibition Cult and Form (1931, Berlin et al.) and in an exhibition of ceremonial art in the Berlin Jewish Museum (1932). From 1935 he taught metalwork at the New Bezalel School for Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. Wolpert's personal achievement is the introduction of Hebrew letters as the dominant artistic element in the creation of Jewish ceremonial art. This is visible in one of his most outstanding works, a Torah Ark in copper and silver (1948, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri), where the Hebrew text represents an integral part of the whole design. In 1956 he was invited to New York to establish the Tobe Pascher Workshop for Jewish ceremonial objects at the Jewish Museum. During his time in the U.S. Wolpert took part in designing several synagogue interiors and exterior furnishings, such as at Temple Emanuel, Great Neck, New York, and the Beth El Synagogue, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Until his death in 1981 he directed the workshop and had a great influence impact on his students, such as his daughter Chava Wolpert-Richard and Moshe Zabari.


Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert. A Retrospective (Catalogue, Jewish Museum, New York, 1976); M. Spertus, "Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert, 1900–1981," in: Journal of Jewish Art, 8 (1981), 86.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.