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5 Klausen Synagogue

Klausen Synagogue

Jewish Customs and Traditions
Part I: The Synagogue and Holidays

Torah Pointer Combined with a Spice Box. Cast silver, Bohemia, 1743 (?)The main nave of the Klausen Synagogue houses the first part of the exhibition, Jewish Customs and Traditions, which deals with weekday services, the Sabbath and festivals. You are first acquainted with the basic characteristics and sources of Judaism, i.e. the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. In the central space - the area of the original bimah (platform) - is displayed an unwrapped Torah scroll (the Five Books of Moses), the reading of which forms the most important part of synagogue liturgy. The scroll is accompanied by its usual appurtenances - pointer, mantle, binder, shield and finials. The vitrines in the central section contain prayer books and ritual items used during weekdays and on the Sabbath (prayer shawl, phylacteries, head covers, candles, spice boxes). A prominent feature of the east wall is the Baroque Holy Ark , in which wrapped scrolls of the Torah are kept. The area near the Holy Ark is set aside for the synagogue and its appurtenances, which include, in addition to the above mentioned items, a curtain and valance. Special attention is placed on highlighting the symbolic relationship between the synagogue and the Temple of Jerusalem. The vitrines around the perimeter of the hall feature the High Festivals (New Year, Day of Atonement) and the Pilgrim Festivals (Pesah, Shavuot, Succot, Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah). Use has been made primarily of manuscript and printed books and rare synagogue curtains for the presentation of subject matter. The intimate space under the west gallery is dedicated to the most important fasts and religious ceremonies, Hanukkah and Purim. Particularly worthy of mention is the collection of Hanukkah candelabra and Esther scrolls.

Interior of a ParlourThe gallery of the Klausen Synagogue houses the introductory section of the second part of the exhibition, entitled The Course of Life. This focuses, in particular, on circumcision and the redemption of the first-born. Exhibits that stand out include an illuminated manuscript of regulations and blessings for circumcision from 1727 and decorated Torah binders donated in honour of a birth. Another milestone in life recalled here is the attainment of adulthood, during the celebration of which a boy is declared a bar mitzvah (son of commandment) and a girl becomes a bat mitzvah (daughter of commandment). Customs related to betrothal and wedding are covered by a number of exhibits, including illuminated wedding contracts and pewter plates serving as gifts for learned grooms. Divorce and the halitzah ceremony are illustrated by a bill of divorcement known as a “get”, as well as a ceremonial shoe. The west gallery focuses on the Jewish household with emphasis on typical ritual items - mezuzah and mizrah. Special vitrines are dedicated to kashrut and ritual slaughter and to the specialities of Pesah cuisine.


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