«Jewish Observer»
December 2001
5762 Tevet

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The "Theasures of the Torah" exhibition is on in Kiev. It is from the stocks of the Museum of historical valuables of Ukraine. The opening of the exhibition was timed to the Babiy Yar Victims Day and will close on February 1, 2002. The exhibition is a unique collection of 220 articles of Jewish culture and household way of life. It is an important event the cultural life of Kiev and Ukraine.

It is for the first time the Jewish cult articles are exhibited in such a number.

The Museum of historical valuables holds articles of different historical epochs. Among them there are 400 pieces of Judaic silver and gold of the XYIII - XX centuries. By assessment of experts in Jewish studies, all of them are unique witnesses of the life of Jews in Ukraine, Poland and Germany. In 1988 a small group of workers and restorers of the Museum initiated a research of collecting together Jewish articles. It is the framework of today's collection. "Restoration, conservation and reconstruction were the necessary stages in the work with these pieces of arts", - says the head of the Museums restoration section B.Bagliy.

The first exhibition of the restored valuables was held in Turku (Finland), in 1991. Then it was in Kiev and Zhytomir (1992), Vienne (1993) and New York (2000).

Visitors and experts in Jewish studies highly admired the collection of the Torah's crowns, cases for tfilins, glasses for Kidush, rimonim, Megilat Ester, candlesticks, pointers for reading the Torah and besamim.

The exhibition was thoroughly prepared and all articles were properly distributed by the religious use. Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine and the Chairman of Rabbies' Council of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich assisted the Museum in systemizing the articles and in translating inscriptions from Hebrew.

The central elements of the exposition are the Hanukkah lamp from silver and the unique collection of Torah's crowns made by craftsmen lived in Poland, Ukraine, Austro-Hungary, Germany and Palestine. Some silver crowns are inlaid with precious stones and gold. They are of different shape and decorated with the figures of animals, birds and bells. Besamim for Saturday's parting made in the form of sunflowers and poppies is beyond imagination.

There are also books in silver cases.

Some articles have inscriptions. For example, the inscription on the cigarette case: "To writer J.O.Linetsky on the 25-year-old literary jubilee from Odessa patrons, November 17, 1890".

Until the 1920s many exhibits were used in synagogues and praying houses. They were the gifts and donations of Jew parishioners given on occasion of joyful and sad events in their lives. The exhibits' geography is very wide - Kiev, Zhytomir, Vinnitsa, Belopolje, Elisavetgrad, Medzhibozh, Tulchin, Lokhvitsa, Yampol. Volochisk, Kherson and others. Some of the present exhibits were bought from private persons by the Kiev Arts, Industriol and Scientific Museum in 1912 - 1914. Nowadays it is the National Historical Museum of Ukraine. Some Judaic articles belonged in the 1920 - 1930s to the All-Ukrainian Museum of Jewish proletarian culture named after Mendel Moikher - Sforim. The museum was located in Odessa (1917-1941). Most of the Jewish ceremonial silver was confiscated from synagogues in the 1920s and handed over to the All-Ukrainian Taras Shevchenko Museum. This was done pursuant to the 1922 Decree "On confiscation of church valuables to the fund to help hungry people". The articles from gold and silver were handed over to the State Bank.

Since 1994 all these articles have been on permanent exposition of the Museum of historical valuables of Ukraine. No doubt, the Jewish silver exhibition is an important stage in the development of Ukrainian Jewish studies and will promote the studies of the history of Jewish people and its culture.


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