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Ceramic change holder in the shape of an Orthodox Jewish man

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.4

Ceramic change holder from the 19th century, designed in the shape of an Orthodox Jewish man standing on top of a shallow dish labelled, “The Old Pal.” 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.” Men traditionally wear the fancier bekishe on special occasions, such as Jewish holidays, weddings, or on the Sabbath. The simpler rekel is worn on an everyday basis. The resemblance of the man’s eyes and nose to gold coins, as well as 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 European 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.

creation:  1800-1899
creation: England
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2021-04-09 10:39:07
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