A highlight of our trip to France was the Museum of Art and History of Judaism (Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme) in Paris.
It’s well laid out and can be enjoyed by Jewish and non-Jewish visitors alike. I’m still traveling, so there’s no time for a long post, but I wanted to share 19 photos that I hope will make readers want to visit this wonderful museum.
Let’s start with Purim items, and begin with one of the older pieces in the museum:
A Purim charity collection box from pre-Expulsion Spain: it dates from 1319.
A Purim noisemaker from late-19th-century France, depicting Haman leading Mordecai through the streets of Shushan.
One of the many Megillat Esther scrolls on display.
A colorful, hand-decorated Megillah.
Rooms are organized thematically. Behind the Purim area sits this Chanukah room.
Chanukah menorah, 18th-century Poland.
A Jewish wedding, circa 1780, attributed to the Italian artist Marco Marcuola.
Chumash (Pentateuch), mid-1650s, Amsterdam. Note the decorative touches on the edge of the pages.
One of the more unusual designs seen at the museum: a Havdalah spice box from 19th-century Poland, shaped like a fish.
Alphonse Lévy’s lovely, evocative “Evening Prayer.”
An Alphonse Lévy work I’d never seen before. (Pardon the glare on the glass of the picture frame.)
Circumcision clothes from 18th- and 19th-century France.
Bridal clothing, 20th-century Morocco.
Traditional women’s clothing, Tripoli, Libya, late 19th or early 20th century.
A small area is devoted to 19th-century French anti-Semitism, including this 1889 campaign poster for “Adolphe Willette, Anti-Semitic Candidate.” “VOTERS: The Jews are powerful only because we are on our knees!… LET US STAND UP!”
What is a giant crate doing in the middle of the museum?
It’s a sukkah from 19th-century Austria or southern Germany.
Painted decorations Inside the 19th-century sukkah.
The museum’s bookshop is impressive, too. It’s large and well stocked with volumes in English and French (among other languages), as well as countless DVDs and CDs and a fine selection of Judaica. I came away with a dictionary I hadn’t known about: Joseph Nehama’s 600-page Ladino-to-French volume, the Dictionnaire du judéo-espagnol.