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Hand Washbasin

Unusual Objects from Our Core Exhibition Tell Stories of Jewish Life

Before the priestly blessing is made in the synagogue, the hands of those making the blessing are ritually washed.

Silver washbasin with flowers and ornaments, in the middle a Hebrew inscription

Hand washbasin, manufacturer: S. & D. Loewenthal, Frankfurt am Main, 1895/96, silver; Jewish Museum Berlin, accession 2005/307/0, photo: Jens Ziehe

This ceremonial wash basin is from the synagogue of the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main. It was donated by Hermann Meyer in 1896, in memory of his father, Salomon, who had died the previous year. The priestly benediction is taken from the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 6:24–26) and used in Jewish ritual and liturgy.

The blessing is traditionally recited in synagogues by the kohanim, descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron, who served as priests in the ancient Temple. Salomon Meyer performed this honorary task in the Frankfurt community for forty years. In most progressive communities today, this ritual is no longer practiced.

Further information on this object can be found in our online collections (in German).

Kohanim

Kohen (pl. kohanim) is the Hebrew word for “priest,” used in reference to the Aaronic priesthood.
More on Wikipedia

Core Exhibition: 13 Objects – 13 Stories (13)

13 Objects – 13 Stories

A Torah shield, a sculpture, a cushion: 13 unusual objects tell 13 stories of Jewish life. One of the tours of the JMB app leads right through the exhibition to eye-catchers of all kinds, some small, some big. What would a museum be without its many objects, each rich in meaning? You can get a sneak peek of the objects here on our website.

L’amitié au coeur (Friendship of the Heart)

by Étienne-Maurice Falconet (1716–1791), Paris, 1765, marble

Finds from the Memmels­dorf Genizah

Memmelsdorf (find site), ca. 1725–1830, paper, ink, fabric, leather, porcelain

Torah Shield

donated by Isaak Jakob Gans (1723–1798), Hamburg, 1760–1765, silver

Shevirat ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels)

Anselm Kiefer, 1990–2019, lead, iron, glass, copper wire, charcoal, Aquatec

Manheimer Family Portrait

by Julius Moser (1805–1879), Berlin, 1850, oil on canvas

Puppet Show

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Käte Baer-Freyer (1885–1988), Berlin, ca. 1924, plywood, metals

Decorated Cushion

“ISRAELI, JEW, and now SEVERELY DISABLED ...,” Daniel Josefsohn (1961–2016), Berlin, 2014/15, textile

Silver Formerly Owned by Jews

Provenance: up to 1939 unknown Jewish owners, 1939 Hamburg Tax Authority

Going-away Present

Bruno Heidenheim, Album to bid farewell to Margot (1913–2010) and Ernst (1898–1971) Rosenthal, Chemnitz, 1936

Hand Washbasin

Manufacturer: S. & D. Loewenthal, Frankfurt am Main, 1895/96, silver

No Longer in the Country

Unclaimed membership cards for the Jewish community Frankfurt am Main, 1949

Composition

by Otto Freundlich (1878–1943), 1938, tempera on cardboard

Yellow Star

of the Lehmann family, Berlin, 1941–1945