The Jewish Museum of Florence

Inside this magnificent synagogue is a small but fine museum.

The Jewish Museum of Florence (Museo Ebraico di Firenze) is located in the Great Synagogue of Florence, Italy, which I posted about last month. The museum is small but holds an important collection of ancient objects of Jewish ceremonial art, evidence of the high artistic level achieved by the Jewish-Italian communities in the field of applied arts. Exhibitions illustrate the history of Florentine Jews from the first settlements to the post-war reconstruction, featuring old photographs, films and a large number of objects of daily and commemorative use.

This was my first visit to the synagogue and museum, and it was very interesting. And heart-wrenching too. Oh, the story of the Jews….

To get to the museum, you can take an elevator with a beautiful view of the 19th century stained glass windows. I caught the video on the way down from the museum.

The museum staff change the exhibitions from time to time and I was lucky enough to visit while these fascinating items from the ceremonial part of a baby’s life. The elaborate and exquisite gown is a dress for the day of circumcision. Below the dress are the tools used to perform the surgery. A baby’s prayer shawl. A bonnet. So evocative.

The next display case featured a embroidered tool for the ritual bath, as well as wedding handkerchiefs and silk bags to hold confetti (confetti here is sugar covered almonds).

I particularly loved the wedding favor bag above. It still has its card from the pastry shop that presumably provided the candies: Doney & Neveux. A quick look on Google images found an advertisement for this famous 19th century Florentine establishment. They were makers of sweets and were distillers.

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