The first private Museum of Jewish History has opened in Moscow. The museum's collection covers more than 200 years of the history of Jewish life in Russia from the late 18th century through to the late-Soviet period.
The museum's collection totals over 4,000 exhibits, most of which were redeemed from private collectors. The first part of it rediscovers the Jewish identity through traditions, culture, beliefs and the way Jewish communities in Russia used to live.
The second part of the collection digs into the social issues. It considers the Jewish community within a historical context, exploring the professions and crafts of the Jews, and their relations with the government. A significant number of exhibits tell the stories of the USSR's Jewish community.
The display features dozens of photographs, portraits, rare documents, art pieces by Jewish handicraftsmen and their working tools and equipment and religious cultural relics. For example, the exhibition offers the chance to see an armchair used for the traditional circumcision ritual, cases for storing Torah scrolls, ritual lamps and many other items of interest.
The newly-opened museum also recreates a special area that was common for most synagogues – genizah. This room was used to store worn-out Hebrew books and papers on religious topics, mainly Torah scrolls that were stored there before they could receive a proper cemetery burial.
The founder of the museum, Sergey Ustinov, vice-president of the Russian Jewish Congress, has sponsored the creation of the Jewish History Museum in Moscow. Visits to the museum are free of charge, however one should put his or her name on the visitor's list with a preliminary phone call. For bookings call +7 (495) 656 4571.
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