Published: August 19, 2008
Yeshiva University Museum will be the only North American venue for an unusual and significant exhibition of gold and silver jewelry, tableware and rare coins, all from the medieval period, culled from a personal Jewish treasure hoard uncovered in Erfurt, Germany. “Erfurt: Jewish Treasures from Medieval Ashkenaz” will be on view at Yeshiva University Museum September 9⁊anuary 29. An international tour will follow with stops at the Wallace Collection in London and Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv, before the objects go on permanent display in Erfurt’s Eleventh Century synagogue in the fall of 2009.
Among the 167 objects on view will be a Jewish wedding ring in the shape of a tower, unique silver drinking vessels, coins, elaborate belt buckles and a variety of garment accessories, all dating from the late Thirteenth and early Fourteenth Centuries. The exhibition offers a unique glimpse into Jewish life and culture in medieval Europe before the Black Death and anti-Semitic violence decimated this small but thriving population in 1349.
The exhibition will present a portrait of Jewish life in Erfurt in medieval times through the 20th Century. In addition to world-class jewelry and accessories, the exhibition includes a contemporary, three-dimensional model of the city’s synagogue during the Twelfth Century, a Sixteenth Century map of Erfurt, photographs of important sites and facsimiles of original manuscripts.
After widespread persecution of Jews in Germany between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Jews returned to Erfurt starting in the Nineteenth Century, evidenced in the exhibition with photographs of the modern synagogue and the ketubah (marriage contract) from an 1899 wedding in Erfurt.
Highlights include a handcrafted gold Jewish wedding ring from the early Fourteenth Century, one of few medieval Ashkenazi wedding rings in existence. Well-preserved artifacts from this period are extremely rare, as jewelry was often melted down when it was deemed out of style. This ring features an ornate, miniature version of a gothic tower and six engraved Hebrew letters spelling out mazal tov , meaning “good luck,” written on the tower’s roof. Jewish tradition still mandates that wedding bands be made of plain gold without the addition of stones.
Additional rarities include a set of eight silver cups designed to fit inside each other, dozens of belt buckles and garment appliqués, a cosmetic set and seven brooches.
Yeshiva University Museum is in the Center for Jewish History at 15 West 16th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Hours are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors and students and children (ages 5‱6).
For information 212-294-8330 or www.yumuseum.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm