Tuesday 2 March 2010

Bon Giorno Jerusalem - the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art.

It's hard to believe, but just a few steps from the bustle of Jerusalem's Ben Yehudah Street is a step back into the world of Italian Jewry in the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art.

Founded in 1981, and housed in a former German Catholic Institution ( the architecture gives the game away!) it collects, preserves and displays objects from Jewish life in Italy over the last six hundred years..
The collection of Arks and religious objects from the Renaissance and Baroque period was dismantled and carefully brought from Italy to Israel in the 1960s by Dr. Umberto Nahon, in collaboration with the Jewish communities of Italy and Israel.

Many of these rare items were found in sadly deserted synagogues that belonged to defunct communities. Once in Israel they were stored close to the synagogue until 1982, when the Museum was officially opened to the public.
The museum also houses a functioning synagogue, transported in sections from Conegliano in northern Italy in the 1950s, but only after the authorities there were sure that there were no Jews left in the town.

Other gems include the oldest parochet ( Ark curtain) in the world, dated 1572, from Ferrara and a host of other beautifully made items, each one a work of art in itself. A sukkah from 18th century Venice, a fascinating parochet from Pesaro, celebrating the marriage in 1620 of Rachel Olliveti to Judah Montefiore, one of Sir Moses' ancestors and a Torah keter (crown) from Alessandria in 1849, decorated with cannons all have their stories to tell.

Your trip to Hillel Street, just up from its junction at the bottom of Joel Solomon St, will certainly be worth it.
I couldn't get a photo of the exhibits: they are very strict about it :-(

To view a Google map of this site, pleae click here 

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