Jewish ceremonial art, also known as Judaica (/dʒuːˈdeɪ.ɪkə/),
refers to an array of objects used by
Jews for ritual purposes.
Because enhancing a mitzvah by performing it with an especially
beautiful object is considered a praiseworthy way of honoring God's
commandments, Judaism has a long tradition of commissioning ritual
objects from craftsmen and artists.
1 Textual Origin
2 Items used on Shabbat
4.1 Passover haggadah
5 Notable Judaica collections
6 See also
8 External links
Judaism has a set of classical early rabbinic commentaries on the
Hebrew Bible; these commentary collections are known as the midrash
literature (Heb: midrashim).
Midrash Mechilta has this teaching on a
"This is my God and I will glorify Him" (Exodus 15:2)
Is it possible for a human being to add glory to his Creator? What
this really means is: I shall glorify God in the way that I perform
commandments. I shall prepare a beautiful lulav, beautiful sukkah,
beautiful fringes (tzitzit), and beautiful tefilin."
Midrash teachings (e.g. Song of Songs Rabbah 1.15) offer the
same idea. This idea is expanded upon in the Babylonian
Tractate Bava Kama 9b). This teaching was understood by succeeding
generations as a duty, when possible, to make beautiful items used in
Jewish life and worship, both physical and textual.
Items used on Shabbat
The following items are used during Shabbat:
Kiddush cup: Kiddush, literally, "sanctification," is a blessing
recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the
Shabbat and Jewish
holidays. Kiddush cups are highly decorated, and are generally made of
china, porcelain, silver, pewter and nickel.
Shabbat candlestick holders
Hand washing cup ("netilat yediam")
Challah cutting board
Havdalah candle and candle holder
Havdalah spice box
Havdalah candle holder and spice box
The close of the Jewish
Shabbat is marked by the brief prayer ceremony
of Havdalah, which usually takes place in the home. Part of the
ceremony requires sniffing a sweet-smelling spice or plant. In Jewish
communities around the Mediterranean, a sprig of a sweet-smelling
shrub was customarily used, in Northern Europe by the twelfth century
there are literary references of the use of a specially designed spice
box or container. The oldest surviving spice boxes for
to the mid-sixteenth century. The
Jewish Museum (New York)
Jewish Museum (New York) has a
German example c. 1550 thought to originate in Frankfurt am Main.
The menorah (or hanukkiah) used on the
Jewish holiday of
perhaps the most widely produced article of Jewish ceremonial
Lindo lamp is a particularly fine example by an
18th-century silversmith. Contemporary artists often design menorahs,
such as the gold-plated brass menorah with 35 moveable branches
designed by Yaacov Agam. A silver menorah by
Ze'ev Raban from the
1930s is in the Judaica Collection of the North Carolina Museum of
Silver etrog box
To protect the etrog during the
Sukkot holiday, it is traditionally
wrapped in silky flax fibers and stored in a special box, often made
In modern times, the etrog is also commonly wrapped in synthetic
netting, and placed in cardboard boxes. Wooden boxes are increasingly
popular as well.
The tradition of artistically embellished haggadahs, the Jewish text
that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder, dates back to the
Middle Ages. The
Sarajevo Haggadah of 1350 is a celebrated example.
Major contemporary artists have produced notable haggadahs, such as
the Szyk Hagaddah. See also the facsimile edition of the even earlier
Barcelona Haggadah of 1340.
Notable Judaica collections
Museums with notable collections of
Jewish ceremonial art
Jewish ceremonial art include the
British Library, the Israel Museum, the Jewish Museum (London), the
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris, the Jewish Museum in
Prague, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum (New
Musée Lorrain in Nancy, the Musée alsacien in
Strasbourg and the
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco.
Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery City Park, New York City also
holds a sizable collection. Another way to see Judaica is through the
art marketplace, including auction houses. Sotheby's, Bonhams-New
York, Skinner's and Kestenbaums routinely hold regular auctions each
^ Kanof, Abram (1982). Jewish Ceremonial Art and Religious Observance.
New York: Abrams. ISBN 9780810921993.
^ "Spice Container". The Jewish Museum. thejewishmuseum.org. Retrieved
^ Luminous Art:
Hanukkah Menorahs of The Jewish Museum, Susan L.
Braunstein, Jewish Museum, New York, 2004
^ Lighting the Way to Freedom: Treasured
Hanukkah Menorahs of Early
Israel, Aaron Ha'tell, Yaniv Ben Or, Devora Publishing (November 29,
^ Berman, Nancy M. (2016). The Art of Hanukkah. Universe Publishing.
^ Agam Brass Menorah
^ a b Mending Wounds in the Judaic Collection – North Carolina
Museum of Art Untitled Archived 2009-05-15 at the Wayback Machine.
^ British Library
Missing or empty title= (help)
^ Les Juifs et la Lorraine, un millénaire d’histoire partagée,
Musée Lorrain, Nancy ; Somogy – Éditions d’Art, 2009,
p. 164 ; this collection is temporarily not on public
display in 2017.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco
The Bezalel Narkiss I