Object of the Month

Object of the Month October 2016

Smelling salts container Cast, engraved, and cut silver Holland, c. 1800 Gift of Joseph B. and Olyn Horwitz

October’s object comes from our special exhibition, Eighteen Tiny Treasures from the B’nai B’rith Klutznick Collection, where we explore 18 diverse miniature objects, each of which shows the remarkable artistry that goes into the making of diminutive Judaica. This tiny box was most likely used on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, observed 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This year, Yom Kippur begins on the evening of October 11th with Kol Nidre, the evening service that ushers in the Day of Atonement. It is customary for Jews to begin fasting at sundown the evening of Kol Nidre and to keep their fast until the following evening at sundown when Yom Kippur services conclude. Yom Kippur services typically last all day as it is a solemn day of repentance marked by prayer and self-reflection at synagogue. 
This silver box in the form of a book is just over an inch high and is inscribed with the Hebrew names Mordechai and Ashkenazi within leaf and scroll designs on the front and back covers. These may be a first name and surname of the owner of this box, although no documentation of the box’s history exists. The primary function of this box was most likely to carry smelling salts to Yom Kippur services. During the 19th century, many Jews used smelling salts to ease the debilitating effects of the fast, or to revive those who had fainted, and the practice is still common in some Orthodox synagogues today. 
18 Tiny Treasures continues until December 18th, 2016.  Cincinnati Skirball Museum will also host two public programs in association with this exhibition.  For more information, please contact 513.487.3098.
Bring a brown bag lunch and we’ll provide dessert and beverages.
Thursday, November 3 at 12:00 pm
The Best Things Come in Small Packages
Slide talk and gallery walk with museum director, Abby Schwartz
Thursday, December 15 at 12:00 pm
Book discussion of Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes, led by Jill Beitz, manager, Clifton Branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County