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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – November 2006

Torah binder
acc. no. JMP 010.130, Austria (?), 1750, embroidered in silk (needle painting). Provenance: Loštice (Moravia).
Abbreviated inscription: Donated by Gitl bat Samuel for her nephew Samuel ben Leib from Rechnitz.

The Torah binder (Heb. hitul, mappah, Ger. Wimpel) is a narrow band of fabric, several metres in length. Some binders are made by cutting up and sewing together the diaper in which a Jewish boy is wrapped during the circumcision. Across the entire length of such items, there is usually a characterisitc Hebrew dedicatory inscription, which states the name of the child, the date (and sometimes place) of birth and the names of the parents, and includes the standard benediction: May the Lord grant him to raise him to the Torah, to the wedding canopy and to good deeds. The binder is donated to the synagogue on the occasion of the boy’s first visit and then becomes the property of the synagogue. This month’s item is the most impressive Torah binder in the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Although acquired from Loštice in Moravia, it originated probably from a prominent Jewish community in Rechnitz, Austria. While most binders were made by a boy’s female relatives, this item is certainly the work of a professional, as can be seen from the intricate and precise rendering of the wedding scene.


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