Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt am Main


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In the 1980s, the Jewish Museum Frankfurt began consolidating and expanding its collections. This process was informed both by the need for a fresh start and a desire to build on the traditions of the Museum of Jewish Antiquities (Museum Jüdischer Altertümer), founded in the early 20th century. These two perspectives, combining an awareness of the future and of tradition, still guide our work of collecting today.

The collection was only able to take over a few objects from the Museum of Jewish Antiquities, since the vast majority of its holdings had been destroyed.

The Jewish Museum's collection now includes, among many other exhibits, a magnificent Hanukkah lamp made by Johann Valentin Schüler, as well as a remarkable Hanukkah lamp collection built up by Siegmund Nauheim. In the initial phase of expansion, the Jewish Museum was able to draw on the holdings in the municipal historisches museum frankfurt. Later, the museum acquired further Jewish ceremonial art objects of its own.

Some exhibits come from Frankfurt's Judengasse including, for example, a Torah breastplate and several Torah pointers from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the golden age of Jewish religious artefacts in Frankfurt. Through the museum's policy of regular acquisitions, the collection's main focus on ritual objects from Frankfurt's Jewish communities from the 17th to 20th centuries has gradually been expanded.

In addition, the museum has acquired, and still acquires, outstanding examples of Jewish ceremonial art from eastern and central Europe, as well from rural Jewish communities in Germany. Jewish communities have also kindly loaned other key exhibits from synagogues in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Usually, such objects were either manufactured by Lazarus Posen Witwe or the brothers Felix and Leo Horovitz, since these two businesses were the leading Jewish producers of silver goods. Both companies enjoyed a reputation far beyond the city of Frankfurt for especially elaborate and finely worked religious and ritual objects. A range of other 19th century objects from central and eastern Europe were donated to the Jewish Museum, with gifts from Siegfried Baruch, Meta Gorski and Ignatz Bubis greatly enriching our collection. Over the years, the museum's holdings were further enlarged by other donations and acquisitions of particular pieces.
These include, first and foremost, the besamin spice tower from Lemberg (today's Lviv) with its little figures in cold enamel, which was donated by Josef Buchmann, as well as the nineteenth century Torah breastplate made by goldsmith Eduard Schürmann. To mark the opening of the museum, Ignatz Bubis generously presented us with the Frankfurt Pesach Haggadah from his personal collection. This illuminated 18th-century manuscript was made for a court Jew's family living in the Judengasse.

The display of the core collection of religious artefacts is especially designed to offer a fascinating and educational insight into synagogue rituals, festivals and high holy days – and, in this way, fosters an understanding of a religious culture developing over two millennia.

The collection's diversity and the range of stories about its objects also document the rupture in history created by the Shoah – a rupture that was simultaneously a break in cultural traditions. The few surviving objects from Frankfurt in the collection only mirror the absence of German Jewish culture in the years after 1933. In contrast, the objects saved by survivors from various regions in Europe testify to the cultural diversity of the post-war communities.

Calendar of events
July 2018 zurück weiter
* Jewish feasts

Judaica Department

Dr. Eva Atlan
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 33329

Jüdisches Museum
Untermainkai 14/15
60311 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 35000
Fax: +49 (0)69 212 30705


Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross
Director of the Jüdisches Museum and
Secretary of the Commission for the
Research into Frankfurt's Jewish History
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 38805

Michael Lenarz
Deputy Director, Archives
and Library Department
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 38546

Fritz Backhaus
Deputy Director, Museum
Judengasse / Börnegalerie,
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 38804

Daniela Unger
Director's Office / Public Relations
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 38805

Other Staff Members

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© ® 1999-2018 Jüdisches Museum
Frankfurt am Main
Last change: 2016, September 12

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