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Torah mantle and finials for the High Holidays

Torah mantle
Hungary (?)
Silk damask, silk- and metal-thread embroidery, sequins on silk velvet
H: 75; W: 50 cm
Purchase, Shermann Fund
B76.0223, 151/112

Torah finials
Vienna, Austria
Silver, repoussé and punched
H: 28; W: 14 cm
On deposit from the Foreign Ministry of Israel
L-B61.10.1009(a-b), 147/118(a-b)

In 1863/4, in honor of the High Holidays, Shmuel Leib and his wife Gittel Frankel donated an elegant matching set – a Torah ark curtain and Torah mantle – to their synagogue in Pressburg. Both items bear a dedicatory inscription indicating the donors' names and both are adorned with a strikingly similar design and similar motifs, suggesting that they were made by the same hand.

The long and detailed inscription embroidered on the Torah ark curtain notes the donors' lineage, with the names of the couple's parents as well as that of Gittel's grandfather, R. Shalom Fried, who was a renowned rabbinical judge. An inscription at the bottom of the curtain was added later on by the donor's sons, R. Wolf, R. Haim-Ber, and R. Ezriel, who contributed to its restoration in 1904/5. The mantle found its way to the Museum's collections many years ago and has been displayed since as part of the permanent exhibition. Recently, when the matching curtain was discovered in an auction catalogue, the Museum quickly purchased it, and the two items – reunited after more than 150 years – are shown together here for the same time.

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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