Jewish Customs and Traditions, Part 1

The exhibition is on the ground floor and in the upper-floor gallery of the Klausen Synagogue

Worship and the Basic Sources of Judaism

The main nave houses the first part of the exhibition, which focuses on weekday services, the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Here you can become acquainted with the basic characteristics and sources of Judaism, i.e. the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud.

In the central space – the site of the original bimah (pulpit) – 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 accessories – a pointer, mantle, binder, shield and finials. The display cases in the central section contain prayer books and ritual objects that are used during weekdays and on the Sabbath (prayer shawl, tefillin/phylacteries, head covers, candles, spice boxes).

The Synagogue: its Meaning and Appurtenances

On the eastern wall is the Baroque Holy Ark, in which the Torah scrolls are kept wrapped. The exhibition space near the Holy Ark focuses on the synagogue and its appurtenances, which include a curtain and valance (in addition to the above mentioned items). Special attention is drawn to the symbolic relationship between the synagogue and the Temple of Jerusalem.

Jewish Holidays

The display cases around the perimeter of the hall feature the High Holidays (New Year, Day of Atonement) and the Pilgrimage Festivals (Pesah, Shavuot, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah). Manuscripts, printed books and rare synagogue curtains, in particular, are showcased to highlight these topics.

The space under the western gallery focuses on the most important fasts and religious ceremonies, Hanukkah and Purim. Particularly noteworthy is the collection of Hanukkah candelabra and Esther scrolls.

The Course of Life, Part 1 – Birth, Circumcision, Adulthood, Wedding and Divorce

The north gallery houses the introductory section of the second part of the exhibition, titled “The Course of Life”. The first topic is that of birth. This section also focuses on circumcision and the redemption of the first-born. Among the stand-out exhibits are an illuminated manuscript of circumcision rules and blessings from 1727 and decorated Torah binders that were donated in honour of a birth.

Another milestone in life that is recalled here is the transition to adulthood. In a special ceremony to mark their coming of age, a boy becomes a bar mitzvah (son of commandment) and a girl becomes a bar mitzvah(daughter of commandment).

Customs related to betrothal and wedding are highlighted by a number of exhibits, including illuminated wedding contracts and pewter plates that were presented as gifts to learned grooms. Divorce and the halitzah (shoe removal) ceremony are illustrated by a bill of divorce (called get) and the halitzah shoe.

The Jewish home

The west gallery focuses on the Jewish home with emphasis on typical ritual objects – the mezuzah and mizrah. Special display cases are dedicated to kashrut and ritual slaughter and to the specialities of Pesah cuisine.

The exhibition continues in the Ceremonial Hall as Jewish Customs and Traditions II

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