I recently began my freshman year at a major US university. While in the university's Hillel for a meeting (I.e. not for davening), I saw the Aron Kodesh had engraved on it , fully spelled out, the Tetragrammaton (I don't even want to write the Hebrew letters).

While the Hillel does serve more Reform than traditional Jews, I was SHOCKED that any Jew would so callously write up The Name, without bothering to even change one of the letters. I've been in many shuls and I've never seen the Tetragrammaton written out as decoration, much less so publicly on the aron kodesh.

Am I correct that Halacha forbids such use of The Name? And may I daven in the Hillel with such an ark there?

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    Elijah, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing this interesting question here! Also, I wish you much success on your university studies and on navigating the fascinating world of observant Judiasm in a university environment. As more interesting questions come up, I hope you'll share them here as well as, whenever you need personal practical advice, with your rabbi. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


Judaism 101 writes,

Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing a Name of God. However, observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.

The engraving on the Aron Kodesh cannot be described as "casually" produced and it is hopefully unlikely to be erased. So there may be no problem, CYLOR.

  • +1 on the answer. @Elijah If the university you started happens to be Columbia, you should be aware that the University's seal also contains the Tetragrammaton and act accordingly if you buy things like notebooks with the college logo
    – Yitzchak
    Sep 9, 2013 at 22:40

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