Biblical Animals

The idea

BIBLICAL ANIMALS is a collection of mezuzahs inspired
by animals that are important in Jewish culture. The
collection was created in a cooperation of MI POLIN
and Monika Krajewska, Polish artist who creates paper


Artist and educator. Author of several Jewish cemetery photo albums and publications on the symbolism of gravestone sculptures. Creator of cutouts and collages inspired by old Judaic traditions, symbols, and religious scripture. Workshop facilitator and lecturer exposing old Judaic traditions through an artistic lens.

“Cutouts is an art form which grew popular among Eastern European Jews in the 19th century and was inherently linked to the religious way of life and traditions. It distinguished itself by embodying rich symbolism such as the menora, crown, real and fantasy animals, intertwined with calligraphic verses and ornaments. This fascinating world became the entry portal to my own artistic exploration and journey which eventually led me to the creation of the mezuzah container – a miniature paper cutout transferred from paper to metal”.


The lion is omnipresent on Jewish ritual objects and in synagogue decoration, especially in Eastern Europe. Its symbolism is complex, depending on accompanying motifs and Biblical verses. The main association is with Jacob’s blessing which makes it the emblem of the tribe of Judah.


The deer, widespread in Jewish art, corresponds to the Biblical gazelle. Its main source is the verse from Sayings of the Fathers: “Be bold as the leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and powerful as the lion to do the will of your Father in heaven.” In Psalm 42, the deer is symbolic of the human soul longing for God’s presence.


The bird as symbolic of the human soul can be found in Psalms and Jewish mystical lore. In the Torah and prayers, a bird’s wings can be compared to God’s protective shelter. Birds among leaves and fruits may evoke righteous souls in Paradise.


The griffin, although ubiquitous in Jewish art from synagogues to papercuts, eludes an obvious explanation. Imaginary beasts appear in visions of the Prophets; griffins may be transfigurations of the cherubs over the Ark of Covenant, especially when they appear next to the Tablets of the Law.