Friday, April 15, 2011

Israel Museum - Jewish Art and Life - Part 1

I gave my family a break today from Pesach cleaning with a trip to the Israel Museum and a tour of the Jewish Art and Life exhibits. Through rare and fascinating artifacts from around the world, we explored the many interested customs of Jews from throughout the world and throughout the centuries.

In addition to my children, husband and "Bubby", we took along my oldest granddaughter. Only eight years old, my granddaughter was fascinated by everything in the museum, beginning with the Shrine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit) to the model of the Second Temple to every wedding dress and canopy on display.

She kept tugging on my sleeve, "Write it down, Savta, and we'll look up the pictures on the internet." So, since we weren't allowed to take photos in most places, I wrote down descriptionsn of a few of the most outstanding objects on display in the Jewish Art and Life exhibits.

If you've never toured that part of the museum, YOU MUST. Meanwhile, until you do, you're invited to tour with me. All the photos are from the Israel Museum website,

Jewish Life, Death and Everything in Between

Jewish Life exhibits are exactly what they sound like - artifacts from births, britot, children's outfits, wedding dresses, shrouds, and every other happy/sad/exciting/quiet moment of Jewish life.

In one exhibit from Yemen (at left, photo from Israel Museum site - just like my granddaughter said it would be), a new mother sat behind a triangular table to welcome guests to see the new baby. Many triangular motifs were present to "push away the evil eye," our terrific tour guide Paula from Rechovot told us.

The woman was dressed beautifully. Paul said that the Yemenite mother had one good outfit that she wore at her wedding special occasions, and in which she was also buried. Her headcovering was called a gargush. On top of the gargush are decorations of copper (and perhaps gold). Paula said that Yemenite women wore their wealth on their head covering.

They also wore their wealth on their leggings. No, leggings were not only for warmth. The detail and beauty of these "great leggings" were meant to show the success of their husband. Silver- and silk-thread embroidery on gold brocade, as shown in the leggings (at left) from Sana'a, Yemen, meant that the owner's husband did alllll right!!!

In Turkey, the bride's wealth was proven by the two beautiful delicate golden bracelets and choker she received for her wedding. These items, her ogadero, were her personal wealth, and she wore them all the time.

The "Great Dress" truly was great. This bride of Tetuán, Morocco in the late 19th century, wore a silk and velvet dress with metal-thread embroidery on cardboard cutouts.

The color of velvet showed what city she was from. The skirt is a wrap around so that it could be opened more during her pregnancy. The blouse if covered with circles - again, to reflect the circle of life. Lastly, under this gown, she wore a simple white dress that would become her funeral shrowd.

More to come.

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