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Rescue and Renewal Catalogue



The Sabbath, Shabbat, is a time of rest and spiritual renewal. Shabbat, which begins on Friday at sundown and ends when darkness falls on Saturday evening, is a day set apart from the routines of daily life and is celebrated with special rituals in the home and worship services in the synagogue.


Silver, Frankfurt, Germany, 1840.

Since antiquity, it has been the special responsibility of Jewish women to kindle lights at sundown to inaugurate the Sabbath and festivals. Traditions vary as to the number of lights to be lit, but two is the minimum, an interpretation based on a variation of the wording of the Fourth Commandment – shamor, observe the Sabbath day, in Exodus 20:8 and zachor, remember, in Deuteronomy 5:12. Very few candlesticks were recovered by the JCR, likely because candlesticks could not necessarily be identified as being for Jewish ritual.

These candlesticks were formerly in the collection of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

Hanging Lamp

Judenstern, brass, Germany, 19th Century.

The Judenstern hanging lamp is derived from a type of star-shaped lamp first used in Europe in the Middle Ages. This form is known from Hebrew manuscripts from Germany and Italy to have been in use since at least the Fifteenth Century. By the Sixteenth Century, the term Judenstern, literally “Jewish star,” became conventional for this type of lamp. The Judenstern was hung above the table and lowered to kindle oil contained in the spouts that formed the star shape. Ironically, the term Judenstern has become synonymous with the star-shaped yellow badges that many Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

Hanging Lamp

Judenstern (electrified); Brass, ceramic, and wire; Germany, 19th Century.

Kiddush Cup

Silver, Augsburg, Germany, 18th Century.

The recitation of the Kiddush, the prayer over wine, is an integral part of Sabbath and holiday meals. While Jewish law does not have specific requirements for the cup to be used, it is often customary to inscribe a Kiddush cup with biblical verses or quotations from the Kiddush prayer itself. This cup is inscribed in Hebrew, “And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the appointed seasons of God,” a verse used in the holiday Kiddush. Octagonal and hexagonal silver cups were popular secular objects in eighteenthcentury Augsburg, but with the addition of the engraving, the cup is transformed from a secular context to a religious one.

This cup was formerly in the collection of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

Spice Containers

The end of the Sabbath and the transition to the new week is observed by the recitation of Havdalah, literally “separation.” Blessings are recited over wine, spices, and light. A special candle is used for Havdalah, based on a custom from a rabbinic interpretation of the blessing recited over light, which is plural in Hebrew. Typically, a twisted, multi-wick candle is used so that when lit, it looks like a torch. The Havdalah candle is extinguished at the end of the ceremony and reused the following week.

The JCR collection includes a group of eleven spice containers and a special Havdalah compendium which combines a candleholder with a drawer for spices. Spice containers take many forms. In Europe, the most popular type was a tower, often influenced by local building design. These spice containers use architectural elements such as spires and pennants, but may also include more elaborate details such as doors, windows, and clocks. Other spice containers take the form of fruits and flowers and even novelties like miniature trains. Many of these spice containers have suffered losses.

Silver plated brass, Austro-Hungary, late 19th-early 20th Century.

While generally following a tower-form design, this container does not utilize detailing typically seen in containers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Rather, it borrows the whimsical use of plant-life details most often seen in containers created in Poland and other areas of Eastern Europe.

Silver filigree, Vienna, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922

Silver filigree was among the most popular media in Germany and Austro-Hungary for creating spice containers.

Silver plate, Poland, late 19th-early 20th Century.

Fruit-shaped spice containers became common in the late Eighteenth Century in Poland and other areas of Eastern Europe. The inspiration for this unique form of container is unclear, but some scholars believe they represent a Middle Eastern influence on Eastern Europe as a result of trade with the Ottoman Empire.

Silver filigree, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.
Maker: MX (Moshe Charlap), Silver, Moscow, Russia, ca. 1895.
Maker: KC, Silver, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.
Silver plate, Germany, late 19th-early 20th Century.

While silver filigree was among the most popular materials for spice containers in Germany and Austro-Hungary, embossed sheets of metal were also common. The scrollwork used here is a standard decorative feature found on many spice containers, while the use of animals is a decorative motif more typically found in Poland.

Havdalah Compendium – Silver, Nuremberg, Germany, 18th Century.

This practical silver object combines the candleholder and spice container (spices were kept in the small drawer) and was used in Germany, specifically in Nuremberg. The advantage to this form is that the Havdalah candleholder can be raised over time as the candle melts.

Maker: AV, Silver, Vienna, Austria, ca. 1922.

Historically, the six-pointed star was used as a decorative element and amuletic device by Jews, but in other cultures as well. The Magen David, the Star of David, became identified as the symbol of the Jewish people when it was chosen by the First Zionist Congress in 1897 as the emblem for their flag. Subsequently, the Magen David began to be used on many ceremonial objects.

Silver, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.
Silver filigree, Vienna, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.


Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the description in the Talmud, in preparing to rededicate the Temple, only a single cruse of oil was found to light the Menorah (seven-branched candelabrum). A miracle occurred and the small amount, sufficient for only one day, lasted for eight days. To observe both the victory and the miracle, Hanukkah lights are kindled for eight nights–one light is lit on the first night and another added each subsequent night. Because the lights are sacred and not to be used for any other purpose, the custom developed of using an additional light, the shammash, to kindle the others. The shammash is missing on most of these Hanukkah lamps.

Hanukkah lamps exist in a multitude of styles and materials, and tremendous creativity has been shown in their manufacture. Historically, there are two characteristic forms of Hanukkah lamps. The first is a branch type lamp patterned after the Temple Menorah–the second is the “bench” or back–walled lamp.

One of the largest groups of objects saved by the JCR was Hanukkah lamps. Most of the lamps date from the early Twentieth Century and were popular types of lamps used by families to celebrate Hanukkah. When these lamps were looted and where they were found after the war are unknown.

Silver plate, Germany or Austria, 20th Century.

The design of this Hanukkah lamp is the classic menorah type associated with the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The depiction of this type of menorah is found on the Arch of Titus in Rome, built in 81 C.E., in which Jewish prisoners are shown being forced to carry away ritual items after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E.

Maker: JS, Silver, Krakow, Poland, 1920-1931

The design of this Hanukkah lamp appears to be influenced by the Bauhaus, a school of modern design founded in Germany in 1919, which advanced a modernist style of simple forms without ornamentation.

Silver-plated brass, Germany (?), early 20th Century.

Silver ritual objects were most often reserved for the wealthiest individuals or the most important occasions. By the early Twentieth Century, however, Germany factories began mass-producing copperalloy pieces plated in silver, making these beautiful objects available at a lower cost.

Silver plate, Germany or Austro-Hungary, late 19th-early 20th Century.
Maker: FM, Silver, Germany or Austro-Hungary, early 20th Century.
Maker: JS, Silver, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.

Bench-style Hanukkah lamps have been used since the Fourteenth Century. The motifs on this lamp, including palm trees and paired lions, allude to the Land of Israel. The Hebrew inscription along the top reads, “these lights are sacred,” in reference to a Hanukkah song.

Silver-plated brass, Vienna, Austro-Hungary, late 19th-early 20th Century.

Bench-style Hanukkah lamps often use architectural motifs as part of their design. In this lamp, the back plate is in the form of an archway. Animals and plants are also common decorative elements. The peacock featured here is seen in a unique group of Austrian lamps from this period. While its symbolism is unclear, it gives beauty and majesty to the piece. The fonts to hold oil would have been placed on the horizontal portion of this Hanukkah lamp. Unfortunately, this part of the lamp was lost.

Silver, Linz, Austro-Hungary, 1872-1920.

The Hebrew letter shin, a letter used to symbolize one of the names of God, is inscribed on the back plate of this Hanukkah lamp on both sides of the Tablets of the Law.

Maker: JE, Silver, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1872.

The curved arms, feet and arched back plate of this Hanukkah lamp are typical of Austro-Hungarian and German bench-style lamps designed to imitate sofas. This type was particularly popular from the 1840s to the 1870s. The paired lions, associated with the biblical tribe of Judah, are a frequent symbol not only on Hanukkah lamps, but also on many Jewish ceremonial objects.

Silver-plated brass, Germany or Austro-Hungary,
early 20th Century
Silver-plated brass, Austro-Hungary, late 19th-early
20th Century


Passover, Pesach, is the festival of freedom, commemorating the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery and the Exodus from Egypt. Pesach begins with the Seder, the special ceremonial meal which is the high point of the holiday. With the Haggadah as the text that serves as a guide, the Seder is celebrated with symbolic foods, story, and song.

Seder Plate

Maker: SA, Silver, Austro-Hungary, 19th Century.

The Seder plate holds symbolic foods, each of which relates to the Passover story. Seder literally means “order” and the Hebrew inscription lists the order of the Seder ritual.

This Seder plate was formerly in the collection of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

Matzah Cover

Cotton and metal, Central Europe, 1901.

According to the biblical account, when the Hebrews fled from slavery in Egypt, they were forced to leave so quickly they did not have time to let their bread rise. For this reason, during Passover only matzah and other unleavened foods are to be eaten. This matzah cover contains three compartments, one for each of the three matzot used symbolically during the Seder. The Hebrew inscription includes the blessing for the matzah and the date when the cover was made.


The Jewish tradition includes ceremonial objects that encompass all aspects of the life cycle from cradle to grave, but very few were found and saved by the JCR. Moreover, the number of textiles rescued was very limited, so it is of particular significance that the HTC collection includes two groups of textiles that represent special customs for the Torah binder and for the prayer shawl.


Mother of pearl, Frankfurt, Germany, 1801.

Amulets are used to protect the wearer from harm or to bring good fortune. They often include an inscription, either on the amulet or on a text within, which denotes what kind of protection or fortune will be brought to the wearer.

This amulet is in the form of the Tablets of the Law. On one side, it includes the Hebrew letter heh, used to symbolize the name of God, and the Hebrew date. On the reverse are the initial words of each of the Ten Commandments.

This amulet was formerly in the collection of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

Amulet Case

Silver filigree, Italy, 19th Century.

The hinged front of this case lifts to reveal a compartment where a parchment amulet with protective writings would be placed. Shaddai, the Almighty, is inscribed at the center of the case. Shaddai is one of the many names of God in the Jewish tradition.

Circumcision cup

Silver, Augsburg, Germany, 1759.

Each child is officially welcomed into the Jewish community when named. Boys are named at the time of their circumcision ceremony when they are eight days old. The berit milah represents God’s sacred covenant with Abraham and his descendants and is performed by a mohel who is trained in the ritual and surgical aspects of the procedure. The dedicatory inscription on the cup reads: “Abraham son of Rabbi Ozer, may the memory of a saint be for a blessing.” The other Hebrew inscription denotes that this cup is used specifically during the circumcision ceremony.

There is no parallel ceremony for receiving girls into the covenant. Girls are traditionally named in the synagogue at a service when the Torah scroll is read, but a variety of folk practices have emerged in different communities.

Torah Binders

A very special custom associated with the berit milah began in southern Germany in the Seventeenth Century. The linen swaddling cloth used to wrap a baby boy at his circumcision ceremony was later cut into strips and sewn together to form a long band to be used as a Torah binder. Called a Wimpel, from the German word for binding, the cloth was embroidered or painted, usually by the mother or grandmother, with the child’s name, birth date, and the prayer recited at the circumcision ceremony. The inscriptions have minor variations of the prayer, which expresses the hope that the child be blessed to grow to study Torah, to be married under the huppah, marriage canopy, and to do good deeds. Many Wimpels are personalized with an inventive array of images. The date of birth includes the term “mazal tov” which is colloquially used to mean congratulations, but which literally means “under a good constellation,” thus many Wimpels include the boy’s zodiac sign. The Wimpel was presented to the synagogue when the young child came for the first time and was used on that day to wrap the Torah scroll. It was then kept as a type of birth record and used again to wrap the scroll on the day of the boy’s bar mitzvah. In some communities, it was also traditional to be used once again when the young man was called to the Torah prior to his wedding.

Seven folk art Torah binders are among the objects sent by the JCR to the HTC. Five of the binders have paper labels which were affixed by the U.S. military when the looted objects were sorted at a centralized depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Painted linen, Germany, 1869.

“Haim (Heinrich Guttmann), son of David the Kohen, known as Tevele, was born on the second day of the week, the 11th of Adar 5629 [February 22, 1869].”

This Wimpel includes an illustration of the flag of the North German Confederation (1866-1871), an indication that the family was proud of both their Jewish and German identities.

Painted linen, Germany, 1892.

“Yitzchak, son of the honored teacher Rabbi Meir Hahan, was born on the fourth day of the week, the 23rd of Nisan 5652 [April 20, 1892].”

This Wimpel has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Linen embroidered with silk thread, Germany, 1860

“Elchanan (Heine), son of Yaakov Ziman was born on the third day of the week, the 12th of Av 5620 [July 31, 1860].”

This Wimpel has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Painted linen, Leipzig, Germany, 1868.

“Avraham, son of Baruch Schwarzkopf, was born on the holy Sabbath, the 23rd of Sivan 5628 [June 13, 1868].”

This Wimpel has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Painted linen, Germany, 1896.

“Arieh (Leopold Guttman), son of Aharon Guttman, was born on the first day of the first month of the year Nisan 5656 [March 15, 1896].”

Painted linen and silk, Berlin, Germany, 1928.

“Ephraim (Edward), son of Yitzchak Zander, was born on the third day of the week, the 11th of Iyar 5688 [May 1, 1928].”

This Wimpel has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany

Painted linen and silk, Moerfelden, Germany, 1907.

“Yoel, son of Gedaliah, known as Heinrich Schott, from Moerfelden, was born on the 29th of Shevat 5667 [February 13, 1907].”

As the situation for Jews worsened in Germany, Heinrich, his wife Sophie, and their daughter Sonja were able to obtain visas to emigrate to the U.S. in 1937. With Heinrich’s assistance, his sister, Henrietta “Henny” Neu, her husband Hermann, and their two sons Herbert and Heinz Guenther followed in 1938. Both families settled in New Jersey.

This Wimpel has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Research assistance provided by the Center for Jewish History, NY, and the Fritz Bauer Institut & Judisches Museum, Frankfurt.


The Torah scroll, which contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, has been a physical as well as spiritual link for the Jewish people since antiquity. A portion of the Torah is read during synagogue services on Sabbath mornings and afternoons, Monday and Thursday mornings, and holidays. Each Torah scroll is handwritten by a specially trained scribe on parchment or leather. The scroll is sewn on two rods or staves called atzei hayyim (trees of life) and the Torah itself is referred to as a Tree of Life (Proverbs 3:18).

Because of the sacredness of the Torah scroll, much attention has been paid to ornaments for the scroll. The diversity of ornaments is a testament both to the dedication of donors and to the creativity of the artists who made them.

When the Torah is not being used, as a sign of respect, the staves are rolled together and the Torah is covered. The rolled Torah scroll is first wrapped with a binder. The HTC collection includes seven folk art binders, known as Wimpels. Traditionally in Europe, the Torah would then be covered by a textile mantle. The upper staves of the Torah scroll are then decorated with finials, rimmonim, or a crown, keter or atarah. Literary evidence exists dating the use of both to as early as the Twelfth Century. Some finials are in a fruit form, though most are tower form. The Torah shield is a plaque hung from the staves of the Torah. The shield sometimes has a receptacle attached for interchangeable panels that indicate the section to which the scroll is rolled, corresponding to the Sabbath or a holiday. As ancient law forbids the touching of the scroll, a Torah pointer, yad, which literally means hand, is used when the scroll is read. This custom is known from the Fifteenth Century. Torah pointers often culminate in a hand with the index finger outstretched.

Shockingly, only about one thousand Torah scrolls were found and distributed by the JCR at the end of the war. The HTC did not receive any Torah scrolls, but they were sent a total of thirteen Torah ornaments. These were from synagogues, while the other Jewish ceremonial objects would have belonged to families. Donations of Torah ornaments are a highly respected form of philanthropy. Often individuals would make such a presentation in honor of a major life event such as a birth or marriage. Several of the objects include dedicatory inscriptions.

Torah Crown

Silver-plated brass, Germany or Austro-Hungary, early 20th Century.

As clearly evidenced by this Torah crown, many objects looted by the Nazis were seriously damaged. The crown is bent, four of the ribs have been broken, and bells are missing.

The Hebrew inscription on the crown reads: “In perpetual memory of the soul of our worthy elder, Binyamin son of Binyamin Wolf Rothstein of Einstockheim, died on 7 Marheshvan 5656 [October 25, 1895]. And the souls of our ancestors Shmuel, son of the worthy Binyamin Zomuel Rothstein, died on 19 Tevet 5666 [January 16, 1906], and Yitalman Teltz Yulie Rothstein, child of Mendele, of Kriegshaber, died on 3 Shevat 5652 [February 1, 1892].”

Torah Finials

Maker: HL, Silver, Budapest, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.

These finials are each inscribed in Hebrew with the names of the donors, “David Prinz and his wife Tesharna.”

Torah Finials

Maker: Franz Anton Gutwein (1729-1805), Silver parcel gilt, Augsburg, Germany, 1755.

These finials by master silversmith Franz Anton Gutwein were originally part of the collection of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

Torah Pointers
Maker: T, Silver, Vienna, Austria, 1860s.

The letters “WJ” are engraved on this Torah pointer and likely represent the initials of the owner or donor to the synagogue.

Silver parcel gilt, Austro-Hungary, inscribed, 1905(?).

The Hungarian and Hebrew inscriptions on this pointer read: “A gift from Jakab (Yaakov) Weisz, may his light shine and his wife, may she live, Emilia (Kayla Chava) Strauber of Kun-Szt-Marton, 1905.”

Silver, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1922.

The name “Avraham Minich” is inscribed in Hebrew on this Torah pointer.

Silver, Austro-Hungary, 19th Century.
Torah Shields
Maker: PB, Silver plate, Germany, 18th Century.

The plaque on this shield indicates that the Torah it adorned was to be read next at Passover. This Torah shield was once a beautiful religious ornament that likely inspired pride throughout the community.

Silver plate, Vienna, Austria, 1810-1824.

The Hebrew inscription on this shield reads: “This belongs to the Rabbi Yishaiah Leib Steiner and his wife, the woman Esther, in the blessed year 5622 [1862].” The canopy, now detached, was originally hung with seven bells and was affixed to the top of the Torah shield.

Silver, Tokai, Austro-Hungary, 1866-1881.

The Hebrew inscription on this Torah shield reads: “This belongs to the society of the acts of righteousness, 5641 [1880- 1881] Tokai [Hungary].” Jewish fraternal societies, like the society that donated this Torah shield, originated in the Nineteenth Century to provide mutual aid for their members in the form of financial relief, life insurance, and benefits for the sick.

Maker: Fraget, Bronze with silver plating, Warsaw, Russia/Poland, 1896-1928.

According to the Hungarian inscription, this Torah shield was donated by Vilmos Gabor and his wife, Janka Tillemann, the parents of the famous Gabor sisters: Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva. According to a newspaper article from Budapest in 1928, the Jewish community of Pest donated a Torah to the Jewish community of Nagyvarad, and a donation was made by Vilmos and Janka of a silver Torah crown and Torah shield. It is likely that this is the shield donated by the couple, and it was confiscated from the community by the Nazis in 1944.

In March 1945, the Hungarian authorities loaded large quantities of looted Jewish property onto the so-called “Jewish Gold Train” to Austria. Three tons of Jewish ceremonial objects were on the train, which included eight hundred Hanukkah lamps and some five hundred Torah shields. The train was seized by the U.S. Army in Werfen on May 16, 1945, and the contents of twenty-four of the carriages eventually made their way to the centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.

Research assistance provided by the Hungarian Jewish Archives.

Metal, Germany, 20th Century.


Presentation Cup

Silver plate, Austro-Hungary, late 19th-early 20th Century.

This award was presented to a member of a fraternal sporting organization at Lake Balaton, today in Hungary. The resort area, originally a destination of the wealthy, became popular with middle class tourists in the late Nineteenth Century.

This cup has a paper label which was affixed by the U.S. military when the looted object was sorted at a centralized U.S. military depot in Offenbach, Germany.


Silver, Germany, 19th Century.

This unique silver object is believed to be a vase, but its original function and the reason for its identification as a Jewish object are unknown.

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