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Torah ark curtain
Kriegshaber, Germany
ca. 1724
Embroiderer: Elkana Schatz Naumberg of Fürth
Silk velvet, silver- and gilt silver-thread embroidery
Hebrew inscriptions noting that the curtain was dedicated by R. Judah Leib and his wife Gnendl, the name of the embroiderer, and the date of the gift
H: 249; W: 147 cm
Gift of the Moldovan family, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: B03.0774 ; 152/294

This resplendent Torah ark curtain is a rare surviving example of the prolific craftsmanship of the male Jewish embroiderers who worked in southern Germany in the early eighteenth century. Such Torah ark curtains were very costly and were usually specially commissioned by wealthy Jews. The main embroidered inscription on this one testifies that it was dedicated by R. Judah Leib and his wife, Gnendl, while another inscription on the bottom bears the name of the embroiderer.

Designed to recall the shape of the ark itself, the curtain is adorned with twisted columns entwined with vines and grapes and a pair of crowned rampant lions supporting a large crown. In addition to their decorative qualities, these images have an underlying meaning, referring to the lion of Judah and the three crowns symbolic of Torah, priesthood, and royalty.

From the Israel Museum publications:
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005
Beauty and Sanctity: the Israel Museum at 40. A Series of Exhibitions Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Zalmona, Yigal, 2006

Sacred Beauty: Treasures of Judaica and Jewish Ethnography, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 11/03/2005 - 21/01/2006

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir

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