Sabbath Book

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What can we see?

We can see lots of columns and rows of tiny boxes. We can also see holes in some of the boxes.

Look closely, what can you see?

What do we know?

The Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, is the weekly day of rest in Judaism. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Shabbat commemorates how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

There are Jewish people all over the world who celebrate Shabbat in different ways. Shabbat is traditionally celebrated with a special ceremony at home, eating a special meal together, and by going to synagogue. Because it is a day of rest, there are some restrictions on what Jewish people can and cannot do on Shabbat. Traditionally, Jewish people are not allowed to do any work, including writing, cooking, cleaning, and driving a car.

This book is a register which records the tzedakah (charity) donations made to the Great Synagogue in London on the Sabbath day. Members’ names are listed on the left and the thread indicates the amount of the gift donated. Each page of the book has a string so that the charitable donations can be recorded throughout the whole book. The string is placed through the holes to mark the amount of the donation given by the individual. The string and hole method was created so that on Shabbat, when writing was forbidden for some communities, the synagogue could still record the members’ donations.

What do we wonder?

We might wonder how many people used this book? We also might wonder how heavy this book is?

What do you wonder?

Object File

Object name: Great Synagogue Offertory Book

Date: 18th century

Catalogue number: C 1993.5

Material(s): Paper

Artist: Unknown

Size: 33 x 47 x 7 cm

On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

Tzedakah is the Hebrew word for charity. Helping others is seen as an act of generosity and justice in Judaism. Tzedakah is an obligation Jewish people have with God to help bring fairness to the world. There are many different forms of tzedakah. One of the most important forms is showing kindness and respect towards others. Doing mitzvahs, good deeds, such as visiting the elderly, helping someone who is sick, and volunteering are all forms of tzedakah. The most common form of tzedakah is giving money to people who are less fortunate and to the communities that take care of them. A collection box or a donation registrar are two ways to give tzedakah to those in need.

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