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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).

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.

Who was Zvi Sofer?

Zvi Sofer (1911–1980), cantor, and collector, born in Podolia, 1929 Aliyah, academic studies in Vienna, in 1938 re-emigrated to Palestine, from 1959 dedication to the revival of Jewish communities in Germany

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Selected Objects: Judaica Collection (9)

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.

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.

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, accession 2003/24/1, donation, mediated by the Verein für Berliner Stadtmission (Association for Berlin City Mission), photo: Kathrin Rahfoth

What were displaced persons?

After the Second World War, “displaced persons” referred to people stranded outside their countries of origin, including around a quarter million Jews in the western occupied zones of postwar Germany

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What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah (Hebr. for dedication), the Festival of Lights in winter commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees

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


Jewish Museum Berlin
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin

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.

How can I conduct research using the museum’s archive, collections, and library?

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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I would like to depict or borrow an object from your collections. Who should I contact?

Your contacts for photo permissions are Valeska Wolfgram and Birgit Maurer-Porat (T +49 (0)30 259 93 433, email: Loan requests must be made at least six months in advance. For questions regarding administrative processes, please contact Katrin Strube (T +49 (0)30 259 93 417, email:

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How can I donate objects, photographs, and documents to the museum?

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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Is there kosher food at the museum?

The museum café does not offer kosher cuisine.

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