Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Early 16th century
Silver, repoussé, pierced, and engraved
Gift of Erica and Ludwig Jesselson, New York, through American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: B90.0090 ; 124/564
The blessing over spices is part of the havdalah ceremony marking the end of the Sabbath. Spiceboxes shaped like architectural structures were used for havdalah at least as early as the 16th century, and the tower displayed here is one of the earliest examples known to us. Its design was evidently influenced by the architectural shape of vessels used in church. Scholars differ as to whether this particular receptacle was originally created for the havdalah ceremony or was only converted to that purpose later on.

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