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New Aquisition

Historical Information

New Acquisition – a silver TAS (breastplate) for a Sepher Torah.

Several weeks ago I heard of the existence of what I thought then, might have been a Jewish silver artifact that was for sale in Heraklion. Had this been brought o my attention now it would have been impossible to justify its purchase in the face the heavy anticipated expenses.  My immediate interest and concerns were high as the chance of finding a Jewish religious artifact from Crete, 60 years after the sacking of our synagogue in 1944, seemed remote. However, some years ago I was given a silver amulet case – 18th century that had belonged to a Jew from Hania and I had also found by chance a silver ‘yad’.  After receiving photographs on the computer it was possible to determine that it was a Jewish Tas – though it had no lineage save what could be deduced from the technique used in making it. After an appeal to four of our Friends I was able to purchase it and it is now in the Ehal.

The Tas is of silver in filigree technique with small lozenges and balls applied the its surface over the filigree. It is slightly smaller than a CD disc in circumference, central to it is a large Magen David. Two small pendant silver balls in the same technique and a central carnelian pendant as well hang from the bottom by three small chains.  The silver chains for facilitating it to be hung on the Torah are double links.

The technique used in this artifact is not that of Ioannina where there was a tradition of Jewish-Christian collusion in the creation of Synagogue art. There has not been time to determine exactly where this piece was made but it is possible that it is either from Izmir or even the Yemen. At a later date we will have perhaps more information on it but the chance that it once was part of the loot taken from Etz Hayyim is more than important for us.

N. Stavroulakis

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