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Finds from the Memmels­dorf Genizah

Unusual Objects from Our Core Exhibition Tell Stories of Jewish Life

When renovating a private home in the Lower Franconian town of Memmelsdorf in 2002, workers found a burlap bag containing everyday and religious objects of the former residents. The bag was used as a genizah.

Various crumpled documents with Hebrew letters, a shoe and a bag

Finds from the Memmelsdorf Genizah, Memmelsdorf (find site), ca. 1725–1830, paper, ink, fabric, leather, porcelain; Jewish Museum Berlin, accession 2003/131/0, photo: Jens Ziehe

The genizah is a storage space for books, papers, and ritual objects that are no longer used. Because they contain God’s name or have come into contact with it, they cannot simply be discarded, as the name of God is sacred. Depending on the religious tradition, the objects are either given a ritual burial or stored in attics or basements. This has allowed objects of great cultural and historical value to survive.

Find out more about this object online, along with other selections from our holdings.

The collection of “holy waste” is a custom that continues. To this day, there are collection containers in Israel and the USA, among other places, which hold unused scriptures and ritual objects. Genizah Container, Jerusalem 2012; Jewish Museum Berlin, accession NDA/1067/0, photo: Baruch Gian

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