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Judaic

The Museum’s Judaic art collection celebrates the spiritual life and ceremonies of the Jewish people through ritual objects of artistic excellence.
Attributed to Zuanne Cottini, Torah Crown, early 18th century, silver: repoussé and chased with gilded cast-silver attachments, H. 9 in. x Diam. 8 5/8 in., Gift of Steven and Lisa Feierstein in memory of their forebears; Ugo Goetzl and family in memory of Alberto and Amalia Goetzl and Arrigo and Itala Ravenna of Trieste, Italy; Elaine Sandman; Jennifer and Andrew Sandman; Dana and Scott Gorelick; Barry Sandman; and Lisa and Michael Sandman

About

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of only two general art museums in the country with a permanent gallery devoted to Jewish ceremonial art. The Judaic Art Gallery opened in 1983 under the guidance of Dr. Abram Kanof (1903–1999), physician, medical professor, and scholar of Jewish art and symbolism. It was Dr. Kanof’s vision—wholeheartedly embraced by the Museum—that the Judaic Art Gallery should not only offer a collection of beautifully designed and crafted objects; it should also serve as a forum for religious and cultural understanding. That vision still guides the Judaic Art Gallery, its collection, and its related programs of research and education.

The Judaic art collection spans three centuries and four continents, embracing a wide variety of forms and artistic styles. It features objects associated with most aspects of Jewish ceremonial life: synagogue worship, observance of the Sabbath and other holidays and festivals, rituals marking the life cycle, and the sanctifying of a Jewish home. 

 

Highlights of the collection include an exuberantly baroque Torah crown—a masterpiece of Venetian silver work; a gilded silver Torah shield from mid-18th-century Augsburg; two splendid pairs of 18th-century Torah finials, the first originally from the Great Synagogue of Amsterdam, the second from a synagogue in Plymouth, England; an Esther scroll in a finely filigreed case from the Ottoman Empire; and a sumptuous Torah case made in the imperial Chinese workshops for a Jewish congregation in India. The collection is particularly strong in modern and contemporary Judaica—including important works by Ludwig Wolpert and Moshe Zabari and commissioned pieces by contemporary American and Israeli artists.

The Museum pursues an ambitious program of acquisitions, made possible by the generosity of many donors through the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery. The long-term acquisition plan seeks to deepen the historical base of the collection and to broaden the aesthetic survey of important Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora and Israel.

Anticipating growth of the collection, the Museum has recently enlarged the Judaic Art Gallery by 50 percent while at the same time upgrading many of the display cases and enhancing interpretation.

Judaic Highlights

Ze'ev Raban

Standing Hanukkah Lamp

(Designed circa 1926; probably fabricated late 1920s)

Bao Xin Workshop

Torah Case with Finials and Pointer

(Case: ca. 1860 or earlier; finials and pointer: probably later)

Willem Hendrik Rosier

Pair of Torah Finials

(circa 1765)

Jacob Andreas Ebersbach

Sabbath and Festival Lamp

(1793)

John Robins

Pair of Torah Finials and Pointer

(1783/84 [per date mark])

Hieronymus Mittnacht

Torah Shield

(1747–1749)

Unknown

Standing Hanukkah Lamp for a Synagogue

(1770/1771 (dedication), with some 19th-century elements)

Zuanne Cottini

Torah Crown

(early 18th century)

Martin Breuer

Ceremonial Beaker of the Darmstadt Burial Society

(1711–1715)

Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert

Passover Seder Set with Plates, Dishes, and Wine Cup

(originally designed 1930, fabricated 1975)

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