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The Treasures

Since its re-dedication in 1999 Etz Hayyim has been the recipient of many quite important gifts in the form of liturgical artifacts and textiles.


Certainly the most important are the Siphrei Torah. The first was a gift of Nikos Stavroulakis and originated in Cairo from the David ibn Zimrah Synagogue. It is beautifully written on gazelle skin, is in its original ‘tik’ and bears a silver dedication. The second Sepher Torah is an Eastern European one and was given to the synagogue by the Westminster Memorial Scrolls Trust in London. This Sepher had been brought to Prague during the Second World War along with about 1,800 others; after the war they were transferred to the abandoned synagogue at Michle near Prague. After many years of negotiation most of these were sent to London where were being repaired and then given to synagogues in need. Our Sepher was acquired through the assistance of Mrs Ruth Shaffer, then Director of the Memorial Scrolls Trust.


The Kiddush cup was a gift of Dr Peter and Doris Naylor. This silver cup is of simple and elegant proportions, is English in origin and dates from the mid-19th century. It has the emblem of the Synagogue inscribed on it.


The Synagogue’s collection of textiles contains several parohets (curtain for the Torah ark or Ehal). For the teva we have several Ottoman textiles either in Kemha weave or embroidered on Bursa silk. For normal use on the Ehal there is a parohet with the Shema embroidered on green silk by Ida Mordoh of Athens. A third parohet is an anonymous gift and was originally an Ottoman prayer carpet.


We also have a complete set of textiles for Pesah – some specially embroidered here in Crete and others of Southeast Asian origin.


We were also given a velvet, gold embroidery talleth (prayer shawl) bag from Ioannina. This dates from the late 19th cent and was the traditional gift that a bride gave to her husband on the morning of their marriage. This was the gift of Mrs Aliki Beraha of Athens.


There is also a complete set of 95 patchwork and embroidered cushions for the benches. Of Indian origin they are strangely appropriate for the interior of the Synagogue. These were the gift of Matilda Beraha and Minos Moisis of Athens.