Israeli papercut artist Archie Granot presented to the Library of Congress “The Ram Granot Bar Mitzvah Book.” Granot created this book for his son Ram (Avraham) on the occasion of his bar mitzvah in November 1987. Presented to the Library on May 17, the gift will be housed in the collections of the Hebraic Section of the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.
Unique in scope and execution, “The Ram Granot Bar Mitzvah Book” is bound in leather and comprises seven sheets of hand-made Fabriano paper (made in Italy in the oldest continuously operating paper mill in Europe).
The first page of the book is a colored, multi-layered papercut with the name “Avraham” at its center. The upper text reads: “This—the Vision of Obadiah—is the Haftarah that Ram, son of Rivka and Aaron Yosef Granot, recited on the Holy Sabbath on the 14th of the month of Kislev in the year 5748.” The lower text reads: “You are the Lord G-d who chose Abram and changed his name to Abraham” (Nehemiah 9:7).
The remaining pages contain the Haftarah, (the supplementary portion from the prophets) that Ram recited in the synagogue. This text has been enhanced by a decorative border incorporating excerpts from a piyyut, a lyrical composition for the Shabbat eve, which was composed during the second half of the 16th century by the Italian philosopher and kabbalist, Rabbi Mordechai ben Judah Dato.
Granot’s creative papercuts both revive and expand an art form believed to have originated in ancient China in the second century at the time that paper was invented. Much of his work is inspired by the Holy City of Jerusalem. His imagery and texts are usually biblical, Talmudic or rabbinical. His use of Hebrew inscriptions—hand-cut in precise calligraphic letters—is an integral part of his papercuts.
Granot’s papercut works include ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts), blessings for the home, Jewish ceremonial art objects and books—including a privately commissioned papercut haggadah (Passover text), which took him nearly 10 years to complete.
Born in London in 1946, Archie Granot moved to Israel in 1967. He earned a bachelor of art degree in political science and Russian studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a master of philosophy degree in Russian studies from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. His works have been exhibited extensively, including showings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and presently at the Jewish Museum in New York. He is the owner of the Archie Granot Studio and Gallery in Jerusalem. More information about the artist and his work can be found at www.archiegranot.com.