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OBJECT OF THE MONTH


Tefillin

• Karol Jerzy Lilpop, Warsaw, 1st third of the 19th century
• purchased from Galerie Vadamo in 1995, previous owner history not known
• part of the museum's Judacia collection
• on display at the museum's permanent exhibition in Klausen Synagogue



Tefillin (also called phylacteries) are a set of small cubic leather boxes with leather straps attached to them. They contain four hand-written biblical texts on parchment strips and are worn during weekday morning prayers – one on the forehead, the other on the left arm. The practice of wearing the tefillin derives from four passages in the Bible (Exodus 13:9, 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:8). The hand tefillin has all four texts written on a single parchment strip but the head tefillin has four separate compartments, with a single text in each. In the past, tefillin were kept for protection in a metal box with a lower base that could be opened; as the inner box was of the same shape, it did not have to be removed before prayers. As an expression of reverence, tefillin boxes were usually made of silver and were variously decorated. The tefillin featured here were made by the Warsaw silversmith Karol Jerzy Lilpop – as shown by the markings on the base – who was active in the first third of the 19th century.
These tefillin were bought by the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1995. Purchasing is one of the ways that the museum is expanding its collections – as demonstrated in the new exhibition The Story Continues: Acquisitions in the Collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, 1994–2014. This show charts the museum's acquisition activity over the course of twenty years as an independent institution. It will be on view at the museum's Robert Guttmann Gallery and opens on 24 April 2014.

JMP 176.908
JMP 176.909
Engraved silver
length: 77 mm, height: 47 mm







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