Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Bag for eiruv bread
Central Europe
18th century
Silk, gold- and silver-thread embroidery, engraved silver plaques
Inscribed in Hebrew: “Courtyard ‘eiruvim”
Collection of Eliezer Burstein, Lugano, in the Israel Museum
Accession number: B55.03.0877 ; 161/008
Carrying objects on the Sabbath is only permissible inside the home or in a courtyard shared by several homes. This restriction, however, can be overcome by performing an eiruv hatzerot (combining of courtyards): The residents demarcate an area in advance, bake bread to be shared by all, and place it in the common area – perhaps in a bag like the one displayed here. The entire area becomes a single domain, enabling people to leave their homes with a tallit (prayer shawl), prayer book, keys, or baby bottle without fear of desecrating the Sabbath. Even a whole city can become a common domain if it is surrounded by poles with a wire stretched between them and eiruv bread is placed in a synagogue.

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