Jewish ceremonial textiles and the Torah: exploring conservation practices in relation to ritual textiles associated with holy texts

Morris, Bernice and Brooks, Mary M. (2007) Jewish ceremonial textiles and the Torah: exploring conservation practices in relation to ritual textiles associated with holy texts. In, Hayward, Maria and Kramer, Elizabeth (eds.) Textiles and Text. Textiles and Text: Re-establishing the links between archival and object-based research London, Archetype, 244-248.


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Jewish texts are integral to Jewish life. The Torah (the central text of Judaism) and the vast body of rabbinical
writings provide the rules by which many Jews live. These written rules extend to the correct treatment of all objects,
including textiles, used in religious rituals. This work considers how these rules may impact on the actual conservation
treatment of Jewish ritual textiles.
Jewish culture is rich in attractive textiles that are highly embellished and prized by their communities. In order to keep
these textiles in ritual use, or to prepare them for museum display or storage, conservation measures are often necessary.
Jewish texts, however, suggest that the textiles used in religious practice, such as Torah mantles, binders and ark curtains
should be regarded as holy, and thus warrant special considerations for their handling, storage and display. Considerationsinclude types of materials used, on which day and times conservation can be performed, and how any removed parts should be discarded. According to professional ethics, conservators should consider the desires of originating cultures when treating their objects, yet few conservators were aware of the commandments imposed by Judaism to preserve the textiles’ holy qualities. This paper examines the conservation issues presented by Jewish ceremonial textiles in order to
suggest strategies for conservators to simultaneously acknowledge the textiles’ physical preservation needs as well as the rules dictated by the religious texts.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: These postprints are the third in a series of three volumes of papers emanating from the conferences of the AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies, Textile Conservation Centre, University of the Southampton, and published by Archetype Publications.
ISBNs: 9781904982265 (paperback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: judaism, torah, conservation, ceremonial textiles, ethics
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NM Artefact
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Art
ePrint ID: 49651
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:33

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