The Queen Esther Mezuzah holds the scroll on your doorpost secretly.
There’s nothing on the outside to identify the mezuzah as Jewish. The Jewish is on the inside, unseen.
In order to save her people, Queen Esther kept her true identity secret, and for that reason she has been called “the patron saint of the crypto-Jews”, the present day descendants of those who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition but secretly remained Jewish in identity and practice.
Here in the Southwest USA, where the Spanish Inquisition was still operating as late as 1820, many Jews still do not feel safe enough to hang a Jewish marker on their door.
And the same is true in many communities around the world.
In 1492 the Jews in Spain had three options: convert to Christianity, leave, or die. My ancestors fled and landed in the Ottoman empire where they kept their native tongue of Ladino, or Judeo-Espanyol, for five hundred years. Although my family never hid their identity, I am deeply connected to those who did.
My aim in making these meuzahs is not to encourage secrecy and hiding. Instead I wish to honor the people who created, through the ingenious use of metaphor and code, an underground culture that has persisted to today. Centuries after being forced into hiding, the Jewish legacy lives on in these families.
The Queen Esther mezuzah is inspired by all the Jews throughout history who were forced to pretend they were something other than what they were. In fact, everyone has their own story of persecution, resilience and survival. Queen Esther would be happy we survived!
This mezuzah is hand carved from the found branch of a piñón tree growing in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
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The mezuzah comes in a crisp new cotton filled gift box and includes a non-kosher photocopied scroll, nails for hanging, and a twelve page mini booklet in English or Spanish with lots of information about mezuzahs.
I carve the Hebrew letter shin spontaneously, directly into the wood, according to the grain patterns and shape of the branch. and then paint it with high quality U.V. resistant black paint. These mezuzahs will last a long time (mine is over thirty years old and shows no sign of wear and tear) in a sheltered doorway. Exposed to the elements, they may develop a weathered look.
I will gladly refund or exchange any mezuzah for any reason, at any time, no questions asked.
How do you hang a mezuzah? Where does it go? Slanting in or slanting out or straight up and down? What is the meaning of the scroll inside? How is it used? What is it for?
There are many things you can learn by owning and using a mezuzah. If you were raised Jewish, in a secular way, as I was, it can teach you more deeply of your own tradition. If you are a practicing Jew, you already know that hanging mezuzot on the doorposts of your home full-fills one of the sacred obligations of Judaism; and if you are just discovering your Jewish origins, or want to come to Judaism, or simply want to share this one beautiful custom, the mezuzah will take you as far as you want to go.
Once you own a mezuzah carved from the branch of a tree that was gathered by a person who found meaning in the object and continues to find meaning in the making, my hope is that you will feel a little more connected to nature, to history, to yourself and to me. When you see the mezuzah, or touch it, you are making contact with yourself and with more than yourself.
I have made well over a thousand mezuzahs from tree branches. No two are exactly the same. They vary one to the next like people’s faces differ one to the next, sometimes markedly and sometimes subtly. Maybe that’s why I never tire of making them.
When I started making mezuzot in 1990, I knew very little about them. I didn’t know that much about Jewish law either. All of my grandparents were Orthodox but my Jewish studies were very limited.
I started carving mezuzahs and immediately started learning.
First thing was the Hebrew letter shin. As I carved my first shin, copying it from another mezuzah, I began to feel the shape of it, the feeling of it. I learned there are many ways to represent the letter. But what did the shin represent? I learned that each of the Hebrew letters has its own meaning. I began to have a relationship with the Hebrew language I never had before.
Shin is the first letter in the word “Shaddai”. one of the names for God. “Shaddai” also translates as “my breast”.