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Circumcision knife with inscription and agate handle with wooden case used by a mohel

Object | Accession Number: 1992.8.27 a-b

Ritual circumcision or milah knife set used by Isaac Ossowski, a highly respected mohel who left Berlin because of the targeted persecution of Jews by the government of Nazi Germany. A mohel is a person qualified to perform the Jewish ceremony of brit (bris) milah, the ritual circumcision of a male, Jewish child. This requires both extensive religious training and surgical skill. A milah knife is sharp on both edges to avoid hesitation during use that might cause unnecessary pain to the child. Rabbi Ossowski was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Berlin. He was head shochet [ritual slaughterer], mohel [practioner of ritual circumcision], sofer [scribe], and hazan [cantor or musical prayer leader] at the Alte Shul [Old Synagogue]. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, increasingly severe sanctions were enacted against Jews. The Ossowski family was repeatedly questioned by the SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) who gathered intelligence on opponents of the Nazi state and policed racial purity. In 1934, Isaac sent his youngest son, 14 year old Sol, to Lithuania to study at a yeshiva. In 1936, his sons, Joseph and Leo, left for the United States. In 1938, Isaac and his wife, Frida, and their daughter, Nettie, escaped Nazi Germany and joined Joseph in the US. Sol joined them there in 1939.

emigration:  1938
use:  approximately 1910-1938
use: Berlin (Germany)
Jewish Art and Symbolism
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sol Oster
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:22:09
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