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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – October 2006

Whip used on Yom Kippur
Lathe-turned wood, leather
Bohemia, 19th Century, unknown manufacturer
Inv. No. 37756

This is an interesting example of a religious custom that has been maintained in certain Orthodox Ashkenazi communities on the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) but is otherwise not in use. The period between Rosh Ha-shanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Ten Days of Atonement, its purpose being to purify worshippers from the sins of the previous year. In the past, one of the ways of atonement among the most devout members of the community was self-flagellation. Yom Kippur is the most holy day of the Jewish year and marks the culmination of the High Holidays when, after a day-long fast, a searching of one’s conscience and a confession of sins, there is reconciliation between man and God.
The item on display is from the 19th century and stems from the Czech lands, although the place where it was originally used cannot be precisely determined. It was acquired by the Jewish Museum in Prague before the war.


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