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Torah Shield

Unusual Objects from Our Core Exhibition Tell Stories of Jewish Life

Isaac Jakob Gans donated this Torah shield to the synagogue in Celle.

Silver Torah shield with gilded columns and lions holding law tablets

Torah shield donated by Isaak Jakob Gans (1723–1798), Hamburg, 1760–1765, silver; Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, photo: Jens Ziehe

The shield is typical of Ashkenazi Torah ornaments, adorning the Torah scroll when it is not in use.

Gans was a court factor in Hannover and Celle and is considered an important philanthropist of Celle’s Jewish Community. According to Jewish tradition, he lived by the command ment to support his community. Gans took advantage of his position in order to do all he could to improve the living conditions of his congregation members.

Ornamentation, symbols, and the dedication of this Torah shield; audio track from our JMB app

This richly decorated Torah Breastplate is roughly the size of an A3 piece of paper. It is made of pure silver and has an irregular border decorated with rocaille, the typical shell ornamentation of the Rococo. This breastplate once adorned a Torah scroll in the synagogue in Celle, near Hanover.

Some elements of the plate have been picked out in gilding. The two columns with vines growing up them for example, referring to the Temple in Jerusalem. Between these are two lions standing on their back legs, holding the tablets bearing the ten commandments. The small raised gilded area underneath represents Mount Sinai, on which Moses received the Tablets of Stone.

On the plinths decorated with jewels beneath the columns, is the following dedication in Hebrew:

„Se nadaw ha-kazin parnass u-manhig / kewod ha-raw rabbi izik ben ha-rabbi / jaakow gans sichrono li-wracha / be-wet ha-knesset kehillat ha-kodesch zel / 525 lifrat katan.“

“This was commissioned by the utmost honorable leader, the most reverend Rabbi Itzik, son of Rabbi Jaacob Gans in blessed memory in the synagogue of the holy community of Celle in 1765”

Isaak Jacob Gans, who commissioned this Torah Breastplate, was a tobacco merchant and court factor for the courts of Hanover and Celle.

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


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

Yellow Star

of the Lehmann family, Berlin, 1941–1945