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Ceramic change holder in the shape of an Orthodox Jewish man

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.4

Late 19th or early 20th century ceramic change holder in the shape of an Orthodox Jewish man standing on top of a shallow dish labelled, “The Old Pal.” The figurine was produced by the Schafer and Vater Porcelain Factory in Volkstedt Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany. The company was established in 1890, and by 1910, their goods were distributed in the United States by Sears Roebuck Company. The man has very long, bushy sidelocks, a stereotypical physical feature commonly attributed to Jewish men. The man’s black clothing and the kippah conform to the Jewish concept of tzniyus (modest dress and behavior), which Orthodox Jews adhere to for religious reasons. Orthodox Judaism is the most traditional and stringent of the three main branches of modern Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe the Torah is of divine origin and strive to adhere to the 613 commandments of Jewish Law. The long, black suit-style jacket is either a “rekel” or a “bekishe.” The resemblance of the man’s eyes and nose to gold coins and his presence on the coin dish, are likely references to the antisemitic stereotype of the greedy Jew who exploits gentiles for their own economic advantage. This stereotype originated from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews. They were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions forced many Jews into occupations such as money changing or money lending. Additionally, medieval religious belief held that charging interest (known as usury) was sinful, and the Jews who occupied these professions were looked down upon predominantly by Medieval Christians. They were perceived as morally deficient, greedy, and willing to engage in unethical business practices. This change holder is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture:  1890-1962
manufacture: Germany
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2023-01-31 14:16:32
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