Ritual Thrones

Found In: Covenant & Naming Rituals

Tags: Elijah

Ritual Component

On the occasion of a brit milah, a boy is usually placed momentarily in the chair of Elijah before he is handed to the sandak (godfather) to be circumcised. In this way, Elijah the Prophet symbolically "holds" the infant boy. Why Elijah? No one really knows, but Elijah is a prophet whose death is not recorded in the Bible. Legend has it that he continues to wander the earth, appearing at liminal moments (a circumcision, Passover seder, and Havdalah [the ritual marking the conclusion of the Sabbath].)

Some families use Elijah's Chair for a girl. Others symbolically invoke a Chair of Deborah or Miriam.


Ayana Friedman created "The Throne of Deborah" for the exhibition "Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time," which is on view through June 29 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. (wood, fabric, 39" x 21" x 33")

For more information about Friedman and the exhibition, go to http//www.huc.edu/news/onview00.html.