Jewish living and giving

22 February – 26 June 2010

Exhibition closed

Room 1

In 1759, the year the Museum opened to the public, Solomon da Costa, a Jewish merchant and scholar, donated a collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts.

This small display includes a selection of his books, now part of the British Library collection and celebrates 250 years of Jewish engagement with the British Museum.

Other objects on display come from the Museum collection and illustrate aspects of European Jewish life and religion, both from Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. Among them are rings, a seventeenth-century silver-gilt Torah breast-plate from Germany, and an embroidered Torah binder from 1750.

The display also includes recent acquisitions of objects from Plymouth Synagogue, the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the English-speaking world still in use. They include Torah pointers and a filigree spice-box, and are inscribed with the names of some of the earliest founders of the synagogue.

Housed in Room 1, this display is shown in the context of the age of Enlightenment, the age of reason and learning that flourished during the eighteenth century, and whose spirit inspired Solomon to make his donation.

Torah binder, linen, embroidered with silk, Germany, 1750

Torah binder, linen, embroidered with silk, Germany, 1750