25. September 11 – December 1, 2006
BEYOND THE SET TABLE:
Plates from the Collection of The Temple Judea Museum
A delightful exhibition of wondrous plates and trays…. ancient, historic, and contemporary plates with a Jewish “connection.”
The title of this exhibition derives from a work of the great 16TH century Jewish scholar, Rabbi Joseph Caro, who is best known for his Shulchan Aruch. Briefly, the Hebrew title of his written compilation of laws and commentary translates as the Prepared, or Set Table. Rabbi Caro determined to make complicated and arcane rulings on Jewish laws and practices easily understood, just as anyone can easily obtain food from a set table.
So it is that we SET OUR TABLE with an exhibition that showcases the fabulous assortment of plates that comprises an important part of the permanent collection of the Temple Judea Museum. This is the first time that some of these plates have ever been exhibited. Hopefully, this selection will broaden the understanding of how plates are integrated into the celebration of Jewish ritual; the commemoration of Jewish history; or the marking of life cycle events. Surely, a religion that celebrates so much of its tradition around the family table must have a rich heritage of tableware!
Also included in the exhibition are precious textiles that accompany certain plates as they are used ceremonially. Treasured plates loaned to us by some of our members and friends are here too. They are presented along with “action” family photographs, and with Jewish cookbooks that sustained and informed our mothers. Early 20th century Jewish-American cookbooks were an amalgam of Jewish and American traditions. While they served as reminders of home in “the Old Country” they also helped “Americanize” the foods of an immigrant generation. Later, as new generations of American born Jews tried to maintain “Old Country” Jewish traditions, a, similarly, new generation of cookbooks became an important resource for home recipes that were often never written down – a culinary “oral tradition.”
Finally, this exhibition would not be complete without giving due honor to the pots and pans that generations of Jewish mothers used to prepare the wonderful foods that filled our plates and, in turn, our bellies. Some on display here have been handed down through generations. As battered as they may appear they are treasured and, often, still used.
Rita Rosen Poley, Director/curator, The Temple Judea Museum
TRAY-FD: Beyond the “Set Table”
EXCERPT FROM RABBI SUSSMAN’S STATEMENT FO THE EXHIBITION
In this unique and exciting exhibition, you will experience the functional diversity and infinite symbolic power of the tray or plate in Jewish material culture. Made of porcelain, silver, brass, wood, plastic, paper, glass and more, trays and dishes are used for Shabbat dinners, Purim desserts, wedding challot, Hanukkah parties and to hold Havdalah sets to mention just a few possibilities. From an art project in preschool to the studio of a master silversmith, plates continue to serve as basic venues for conveying Jewish life. As this brilliant display proves, Judaism has a “full plate” when it comes to its tabletop celebrations! Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D.
End of exhibition: Friday, December 1st
Passover Seder Plate
Plate for Shavuot