Judaica Collection

Dreieckiger Leuchter aus Bronze mit einer reliefartigen, figürlichen Darstellung

Chanukah candelabra by Erna Weill, USA, according to signature 1936; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Roman März. Further information about the object can be found in our online collections (in German).

Judaica Collection

Our collection of objects for religious use documents Jewish history and culture by way of ritual and everyday items. A central issue here is how these items reflect Jewish life in the past and present.

Scope and Spectrum

To date the collection counts about 1,500 objects. The heart of the collection is the private collection of Zvi Sofer, a cantor from Münster, which the Berlin Museum acquired in 1981. It also contains comparative pieces from other countries as well as a growing number of contemporary ceremonial objects.

The collection holds characteristic objects for religious use made of a wide assortment of materials, including various textiles, paper types, and metals. The breadth of craftsmanship ranges from ornate examples of eighteenth-century German silversmithing to simple folk art of the nineteenth century.

Historical and Thematic Emphases

Another focus of the collection is the mass production of Jewish ritual objects from the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century by largely non-Jewish firms. This silver manufacturing industry was centered in Hanau in the state of Hesse. Judaica was produced there until very recently. We have documented examples of the Hanau production process in a film and over 500 drawings, models, and other design materials.

Colorfult stained glass window depicting the star of david with Hebrew text at the bottom

Window of a prayer room with the Star of David of the Israelitische Vereinigung von Lichtenberg und Umgegend e. V. in the Frankfurter Allee, 1905; Jewish Museum Berlin, donation, mediated by the Verein für Berliner Stadtmission (Association for Berlin City Mission)

We also collect objects that reflect change, innovation, or renewal in Jewish life after 1945. These objects raise questions about Jewish identity and ritual practice, from a wedding canopy made for use in a displaced persons camp to our collection of contemporary Hanukkah and Christmas objects.

Michal S. Friedlander
Curator of Judaica and Applied Arts
+49 (0)30 259 93 511
+49 (0)30 259 93 409

In this film, made as part of our exhibition on the First World War in Jewish Memory, Michal Friedlander, curator of Judaica and Applied Arts, presents two Torah pointers donated to a British and an Algerian synagogue.

Our Reading Room is open to the public. You can also research using our library’s holdings and some of our collection’s holdings online. To view additional holdings, please contact the responsible curators.

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The contact person for photo reproductions is Valeska Wolfgram (tel.: +49 (0)30 259 93 433, email: v.wolfgram@jmberlin.de). Due to preparations for our new permanent exhibition, our time is very limited. We therefore ask that you please refrain from sending loan requests for the time being. For urgent inquiries, please contact Katrin Strube (tel.: +49 (0)30 259 93 417, email: k.strube@jmberlin.de).

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If you would like to support the Jewish Museum Berlin and believe you possess materials that may be of interest to us, contact us!

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The Museum Café does not practice kosher cooking.

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Selected Objects (6) Judaica Collection Show all

Judaica Collection

Our collection of ceremonial objects ranges widely from a valuable eighteenth-century Torah curtain donated by Formet and Moses Mendelssohn to contemporary ritual items to small kitchen supplies for following Jewish dietary laws.

Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman

What is unusual about this contemporary seder plate is its additional recess for an orange, marking a new custom which has found growing popularity among feminists in recent decades.

Hanukkah Toys

Traditionally, the Jewish festival of lights doesn’t involve presents. But like Christmas, Hanukkah too is increasingly commercialized, and there is already color-coded gift wrap in the US.

Purim Costume

This costume of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, should have been a top seller for Purim. But then a tragic accident occurred.

Scouring Pads

“No more kitchen confusion!” Three color-coded scrub brushes from the US make it easier to keep track of Jewish dietary rules.

Torah Ornaments by Kurt Matzdorf

The artist Kurt J. Matzdorf is known for his modern interpretations. Alongside the classic materials of silver and gold, he used colored acrylic for his Judaica.

Torah Curtain Donated by the Mendelssohns

Moses and Fromet Mendelssohn commissioned a Torah curtain, probably using the fabric from Fromet's wedding dress, and donated it to a synagogue in Berlin in 1774–75.