PRAGUE (Dec. 16)
A priceless collection of silver Jewish artifacts has gone on permanent display in the Spanish Synagogue here.
The 200-piece exhibition, entitled “Synagogue Silver from Bohemia and Moravia” includes burial society objects including beakers, combs and implements for ritually cleansing the deceased, spice boxes, Chanukah menorahs and Torah ornaments.
Some of the artifacts are more than 500 years old.
The exhibition is part of a 6,000-piece collection of silver artifacts owned by the Jewish Museum in Prague, which said the objects provided an invaluable record of the region’s Jewish history.
“This exhibition is rare because all of the items are from the area of Bohemia and Moravia,” said Leo Pavlat, director of the Jewish Museum. “We wanted to have a permanent exhibition that would explain Jewish customs, history and traditions here through objects.”
The collection started at the beginning of the 20th century, when Prague’s Jewish Museum was created.
The museum’s original mission was to preserve artifacts from Prague synagogues that were destroyed during the reconstruction of the Jewish part of the city at the turn of the century.
Items in the collection include a burial society beaker made in Augsburg between 1595 and 1600.
Few of the earliest pieces survive, however, because in the past, silver objects were appreciated as much for the amount of precious metal they contained as for their artistic or religious value.
The bulk of the exhibition dates from the mid-18th and 19th centuries. Many of the items on display were produced in the workshops of Christian manufacturers who were commissioned by Jewish communities and individuals because Jewish participation in the crafts was restricted by the state.