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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

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Core Exhibition: 13 Objects – 13 Stories (13)