Projects & News

OJM Objects: A Wimple with Zoomorphic script

Today I want to share another beautiful object I've had the pleasure to work with: a beautiful wimple donated to the Oregon Jewish Museum from Congregation Beth Israel. 

 Torah Wimple

"Aryeh son of Moshe Fried, born 23 Tevet, 5614 

(23 January, 1854)

Gift of Congregation Beth Israel 2011.19.78

 When I first saw this object I had just pulled it from the bottom of an unsuspecting box of plain textiles. Needless to say, I was immediately intrigued. 


OJM defines a wimple in their object guide as, "...a cloth sash that binds the Torah scroll while it is in the ark. Once the Torah is placed on the reading table, the wimple is unfastened and set aside until the reading is completed. In some traditions the cloth that swaddles a baby for its circumcision or baby naming ceremony also binds the Torah during the child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah." Because of the inscription on this wimple it is likely that our object was commissioned for this latter reason. 


Because the wimple itself is about 30 feet long, I will not be posting images of the entire object. However, the most interesting parts of the wimple are the script letters that morph into animals and humans - the zoomorphic script - and some of my favorite examples are shown in the above images. 

While we don't have a detailed history of this object, the inscriptions allow us some incite into the objects life.  We know the wimple was created in 1854 because of the main inscription, but we also know that it was created in New York because of a small inscription in the lower left hand corner of the object - seen above.  Somewhere over the course of the last 160 (and some) years it made its way across America from New York to Portland. 

Today you can see a portion of the wimple when you visit OJM's Judaica collection - as seen above.

OJM OBjects: The Ritual Hand-washing Towel

During my first few weeks at the Oregon Jewish Museum as I was to going through several boxes of donated objects to archive, I came across several beautiful, historical, and interesting objects I would like to show here. I had the pleasure of processing, researching, and eventually putting these objects on display. 


This is the first beautiful Object:

Ritual Hand Washing Towel 

Alsace, France 1769 

Gift Of Congregation Beth Israel 




A Ceremonial towel accompanies the hand washing ritual before a meal. The Ornate embroidery on this piece indicates that it would have been reserved for sabbath or festival Use. It would have hung in a place of honor on the wall of the home and is embroidered with the name of the couple who owned it: "Made in the year 5529 Rafael ben Shimshon. Rozeleh bas Yehudah Seigal." 

Here you can see the textile after we hung it for display. 


This hand-stitched textile traveled to America from Europe and must have passed from one generation to the next as the inscription indicates it was created in 1769. 


The blue and green needle work creates a series of flowers blooming from a vase flanked by two double tailed lions. While the flowers mimic each other from side to side, they are not mirror replicas making the flowers seem organic rather than lifeless. The top presents us with a crowned double headed eagle, surrounded with the inscription of the owners and the date.  


This object is now on display in the Judaica collection, upstairs at OJM.

A happy historian admiring her work!

More Objects Coming Soon!