Title Image

The Treasures

Interior of Torah Shrine, the MST scroll is located in the centre.
Pair of Rimonim, excavated in southern courtyard of Etz Hayyim.
Pair of Rimonim, excavated in southern courtyard of Etz Hayyim.
Menorah at Etz Hayyim.
Menorah at Etz Hayyim.

Since its re-dedication in 1999, Etz Hayyim has received a number of important gifts in the form of liturgical artefacts and textiles, for example, a shofar (ram’s horn), yad pointers for Torah reading and Kiddush cups, among others.

.

Torah Scrolls

The most important liturgical items are the Siphrei Torah (Torah scrolls). The first Torah scroll originates from the David ibn Zimrah Synagogue in Cairo and was gifted to Nikos Stavroulakis. Encased in its original tik (case), this Torah scroll is written on gazelle skin and bears a silver dedication. The second Torah scroll is an Eastern European one on permanent loan to the synagogue from the Westminster Memorial Scrolls Trust in London. This scroll had been brought to Prague during the Second World War along with about 1,800 scrolls. After the war, they were transferred to an abandoned synagogue at Michle near Prague. After several years of negotiation, most of these scrolls were sent to London where they were repaired and then given to synagogues in need of a Torah. This particular scroll was acquired through the assistance of Mrs Ruth Shaffer, then Director of the Memorial Scrolls Trust.

.

Rimonim

Rimonim (Hebrew for pomegranates) are decorative finials for the Sepher Torah, the five books of Moses written by hand on a long roll of parchment. The Torah is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts that are attached to either end of the scroll. The rimonim are placed on each of those shafts when the Torah is taken out of the Ehal (Torah Shrine) during festivals. During the restoration works, a pair of discarded rimonim was found in the southern courtyard during excavations. The rimonim comprise a copper base and a heavily carved wooden top in a foliate design, covered with viridian green tempera paint and gold-leaf. Only one of the pair was discovered largely intact. Exact duplicates of these rimonim were made by a local craftsman, complete with viridian green and gold-leaf decoration and bells. They are now used during services and at other times placed on metal supports on both sides of the Torah Shrine, together with another pair of silver rimonim for the second Sepher Torah.

.

Menorah

A menorah is a seven-branched lampstand that was used in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps. In synagogues today, the Ner Tamid (eternal light) is a symbolic reminder of that Temple’s menorah. The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times. As in many other synagogues, a menorah is displayed in Etz Hayyim Synagogue at the base of the Ehal in the sanctuary.

.

Prayer Shawl

Etz Hayyim was gifted a velvet, gold embroidery talleth (prayer shawl) bag from Ioannina by Mrs Aliki Beraha of Athens. The shawl dates to the late 19th century and was the traditional gift that a bride gave to her husband on the morning of their marriage.

.

Cushions

Etz Hayyim received a set of 95 patchwork and embroidered Indian cushions for the benches in the sanctuary that were a gift of Matilda Beraha and Minos Moisis of Athens.