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A gift made after the return from exile

• 1748
• shipped to the JMP from the Prague collection point in 1942-45
• JMP collection, sub-collection 'Textile Judaica'

The Jeiteles family's curtain is not an expensive cult object but it was donated at a time when gifts to synagogues in Prague were quite rare. When, after more than three years in exile, the Jews of Prague were allowed to return to their home town at the end of the summer of 1748, they focused all their efforts on repairing their devastated private and public buildings and reviving the economy. The years of exile, which most Jewish families spent in the Czech countryside, had led to considerable hardship, particularly for the poor.
The donor of this curtain – Simon Jeiteles (ca 1700-1778) – was a member of the local burial society and a wool merchant but not a wealthy one. He was ranked in the fourth of six property classes, along with his eldest son Lejb (1724-1788), who was a cloth merchant. Simon's wife Yitl (ca 1705-1778) was also middle class; her father Mordecai Karpeles (1686-1761) traded in Czech garnets. As the family had good acquaintances, they were able to stay in the quiet Moravian town of Batelov during the period of exile; this is probably where the curtain was made. The donation was presumably an expression of gratitude for the family being able to return to their home town.
The turbulent history of the expulsion and return of Prague Jews is covered in a new publication by the Jewish Museum in Prague. This book provides details of 1,471 sworn declarations (Fassionen), which were made by the heads of Jewish families after returning to Prague. These declarations, which mention the occupations of the heads of families and list the members of their household, are a key genealogical source. The declarations numbered 315, 907 and 1302 provide information about the family of the persons who donated this curtain. Interestingly, in his declaration, Simon Jeiteles is recorded under the surname Pick, which he had adopted earlier in honour of the father of his first wife.

A gift of KH Simon, son of KH Leib Jeiteles, of blessed memory, and his wife, Yitl, daughter of MHV Mordecai Karpeles, may his light shine, 508 according to the minor era (= 1748).
ZMP 016.697
silk, velvet, metal thread, full stitch embroidery
1660 x 1440 mm

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