The Penitents

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The Penitents

Etching with Aquatint
22" x 30"

The Rituals of Atonement Suite is completed with The Penitents in which a minyan (a prayer quorum of ten Jewish men) is shown performing the prayer known as ‘Al Chet’ (the ‘ch’ is pronounced gutturally). In this prayer, we ask forgiveness for the sins which we have committed unknowingly such as insulting a loved one, or being disrespectful to an elder. Only one woman is shown in the balcony of the synagogue for three reasons. First, in the orthodox tradition, men and women must sit separately during services so as not to distract each other during prayer. Second, although women are not technically required to attend services in deference to domestic duties, their spiritual presence may be felt. Third, because one woman’s role in maintaining the existence and balance of faith is so important, it must never be underestimated.

Text & Illustrations 1975 Ilene Winn-Lederer