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Ceremonial Objects and the Applied Arts

The ceremonial objects and applied arts collection documents German-Jewish history and culture through ritual, art, and everyday objects.

colorful Torah rimonim

Torah rimonim with symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel, silver and acrylic, Kurt J. Matzdorf (born 1922), New Paltz, New York 1981
© Jewish Museum Berlin

The question of how these objects reflect German-Jewish life past and present is the focus of the collection.

Representative objects used for religious rituals made from a variety of materials such as fabric, paper, and metal can be found in the ceremonial art collection. The collection also boasts similar objects from other countries and a growing collection of contemporary ceremonial objects. The spectrum of artisanal and technical skill ranges from very ornate examples of German silverware from the 18th century to simple folk art. The highlight of the now 1,300-piece collection is the private collection of the cantor, Zvi Sofer, an acquisition the museum was able to make in 1981.

A focus of the collection is ceremonial objects mass-produced primarily by non-Jewish companies from the late 19th and into the 20th century.

slanted, geometric teapot

Teapot manufactured by the Haël-Werkstätten, ceramic, Grete Loebenstein-Marks (1899-1990), Marwitz 1923-1934
© Jewish Museum Berlin

Until very recently, Hanau in Hessen was a center for the manufacture of silver, including Jewish ceremonial objects whose production pocess the Jewish Museum Berlin documented in a film as well as photographs.

The museum also collects objects that represent change, innovation, and revival of Jewish life and that pose questions about Jewish identity and ritual practice, ranging from a wedding dais produced for a Displaced Persons camp to a contemporary collection of Hanukkah and Christmas objects.


Michal S. Friedlander
Curator for Judaica and Applied Arts
Tel: +49 (0)30 259 93 511
Fax: +49 (0)30 259 93 409

A further area of the collection is the applied arts. The museum aims to research and document the work of German-Jewish craftspeople and companies that produced non-ritual objects. The spectrum in this area includes on one end quality ceramics and handwrought silverware and on the other end a selection of objects mass-produced by German-Jewish manufacturers.

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