This level of the permanent exhibition includes a small sitting room, specially designed to offer the visitor a brief rest, a characteristic example of middle-class architecture of the Ottoman period. This is the “Oda”, or “Nice Room”, or “Reception Room”, or “Archontariki”, as it has been called in traditional Greek architectural terminology. The Oda was the center of the middle-class house, and its architecture and form was common to Muslim, Jews and Christians. The walls were decorated with geometrical motives, floral themes, mundane and bucolic representations, and joyful scenes in frames. On the Oda, which was covered with the best carpets, were low and relaxing benches or minteria or built couches, used by family members and by guests for relaxing and sleeping. The Jews in Greece used the Oda also for engagements, weddings, and circumcisions. The wooden frames which decorated the walls were painted by the first director of the Museum, the dearly departed Nikos Stavroulakis, in order to cover the walls of the Oda in the former Museum building. They were installed here, in commemoration of his important contribution to the Jewish Museum of Greece.
Between the “Oda” and the display case of the cycle of life, there are two display cases, recent additions of the JMG, dedicated to the Jews of Crete. The exhibits presented are primarily heirlooms of the families Capon, Minerbo, and Albert — in combination with relevant artefacts from the JMG collections. The displays include among other items, jewelry, photographs, documents and religious objects, dating back to the end of the 19th century. In addition to objects from the time of the German Occupation, belonged to the persecuted Jews of the island.
The display on the same level is also associated with the home: the everyday life of the Greek Jews and the cycle of life. Jewish life has always been centred in the synagogue, a place of prayer and study, and in the Jewish home, where traditions are preserved and passed on. Holidays, ceremonies and rituals, the preparation of food, lighting of candles, blessing of children and many other domestic rites, make the Jewish home a holy place. Family life has always been highly regarded in the Jewish tradition; therefore, a marriage was a very important event in any community and followed a set sequence of rituals in Greece, starting with the official betrothal and culminating in the religious ceremony and joyous, extensive festivities.
Click here to see selected artefacts
General view of the Oda, reception room.
Τhe Ketubbah, marriage contract, contained the obligations of both bride and groom prescribed by Jewish law, as well as the monetary value of the dowry and, in the case of Ketubbot from Ioannina, a detailed account of the bride’s trousseau. This marriage contract represents the earlier type from Ioannina. Its text is inscribed within a horseshoe arch, which is framed by broad border stripes filled with dots and the widespread Ottoman motif of serrated leaves. It was created in 1845 for the marriage of Moses, son of Samuel Moses and Rosa, daughter of Michael Moses.
Silk gauze headscarf for the woman in childbed, with embroidered apotropaic symbols and the Name of God “Shaddai”, as well as the names of the angles Sanoi, Sansanoi and Semanglov and of Adam and Eve, Smyrna, 19th century.
The special blessing of the Brit Milah was recorded on an Aleph, a unique custom of the Romaniote Jews of Greece, which hung in the room of newly delivered mothers and served, both as an amulet, to protect both mother and child during the confinement period and later, as a circumcision certificate. This Aleph represents the earlier, elegant type, with a subtle coloration and a classical composition. It belonged to Jedidiah Cohen born on 29 January 1875, who is surely none other than Rabbi Jedidiah from Preveza, who came into office in the Patras Synagogue in the early 1920’s.
Circumcision instruments, 19th – early 20th century.
Bridal couple in traditional Ottoman period Jewish costume, late 19th century.
Takunya, wooden clogs, Istanbul, 19th century.
Cotton Benika, hair wrapper embroidered with cross stich pattern, North Africa, late 19th century.
Equipment for a Bar Mitzvah, “son of Duty”, consisting of a) a Tallit with bag, b) Kippah, skullcap, c) a Siddur, prayerbook with daily prayers and d) a Tefillin bag and Tefillin, two leather boxes containing pieces of parchment with passages from the Torah, which are bound on the left arm and above the forehead for the morning service.
Silk cushion cover, embroidered with silk, gold and silver thread, Ioannina, early 19th century.
Decorative silver goblet provided with receptacles for spoons, existed in both Christian and Jewish homes. Guests were welcomed with a spoonful of a homemade sweet called “Dulsi” in Ladino and “Glyko tou Koutaliou”, literally “Spoon Sweet” in Greek. These were boiled pieces of fruit preserved in syrup.
Characteristical costume of a rabbi of the 19th century, consisting of a striped silk Anderi from Salonica and a black Dulamas, which belonged to Chief Rabbi of Athens, Elias Barzilai.
Coloured lithograph. It depicts an imaginary, picturesque scene in the Jewish cemetery in the Hasköy quarter of Istanbul. It shows a Jewish woman wearing a Makrama, a white scarf leaving her face unveiled, and a Feraçe, a heavy dustcoat with a large, embroidered collar worn by the Jewish women of Istanbul. She is sitting near an elaborately carved, rectangular tomb. A rabbi or professional prayer reader is standing next to the woman, hired to recite prayers for the deceased, who was probably a relative or a renowned rabbi. The lithograph was made after a watercolour painted in the 1850’s by Amadeo Preziosi, a Maltese nobleman who spent most of his life in this city. It was first published in 1858.