Mark Podwal's richly designed textiles for Prague's Altneuschul, the oldest and continually active synagogue in Europe, include a Torah ark cover, three Torah mantles and covers for the Torah reading and cantor’s desks. Built in 1270, the Altneuschul, or “Old-New Synagogue,” is celebrated for its architectural beauty and legendary provenance–myth has it its stones were brought by angels. In collaboration with renowned New York textile embroiderers Penn & Fletcher, Podwal used modern technology to create vignettes of the centuries-old Prague Jewish Community.
Aron Kodesh exterior door decoration Mark Podwal's Hebrew Zodiac is etched in copper on the exterior of the ark doors. The art is based on the following Talmudic verse: “He who sees the sun in its seasons, the moon in its fullness, the stars in their orbit, the planets in their fixed order, will say ‘Blessed be the Creator of the Universe.’” Zodiac signs appeared frequently in early Jewish art particularly in synagogue floor mosaics. The balancing scale of Libra coincides with the month of Tishrei, the time of divine judgment. Taurus was linked to the calf slaughtered by Abraham for his three angelic guests while Gemini is said to represent Jacob and Esau. The twelve Zodiac signs were also said to correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Aron Kodesh interior door decoration "All that which I created, I created in pairs: Heaven and Earth a pair, the sun and moon a pair, Adam and Eve a pair" (Song of Songs Rabbah). Inspired by this verse, depicted are the sun and moon, a pair of rimmonim, a pair of tefillin, a pair of hands configuring the priestly blessing, a pair of challot, and the two tablets of the Ten Commandments protected by a pair of lions.
The Paroketh The Paroketh, the curtain in front of the Aron Kodesh, is adorned with a painting of a Tree of Life with the Torah scrolls as the trunk. The Kabbalistic tree diagram portraying the ten sefirot or attributes of G-d appears among the leaves of the larger tree.