On Tuesday, 30th July 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:
Last Sunday we visited the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem), a moving experience because it was so personal. It was about a generation and more of people who vanished. Many of the chronological themes were explained via objects such as photographs, travel documents, letters, a battered watch or a broken toothbrush. Other stories were told via garments, such as a blouse taken from a mound that was recognised as having belonged to a friend and neighbour, a pit full of shoes, yellow Stars of David, and most telling, the blue and white striped garments worn in the camps. This museum really shows how clothing can be used to tell hard stories and pass on messages and emotions.
Monday was a brighter day as Willem and I spent the morning in the Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, and later the Israel Museum. The Italian Museum is based around an 18th century synagogue that was moved from a village near Venice to Jerusalem after the Second World War (1939-1945). There is currently a well-planned and displayed exhibition called ‘Warp & Weft. Women as Custodians of Jewish Heritage in Italy’, which describes the use of textiles in the synagogue as well as in daily Jewish life with an emphasis on 17th century and later textiles and garments. One of the themes was the reuse of the elaborate textiles from women’s dresses for items in synagogues (it is worth noting that the same happened in the Catholic Church, as many 18th century Church vestments were made out of women's dresses....). Sadly there is no catalogue with the exhibition, but well worth a visit should you be in Jerusalem. The exhibition can be seen until the 31st December.
There are many displays in the Israel Museum, but we wanted to see a temporary exhibition about recent fashions in modesty dress in the Jerusalem region. A total of twelve adult female figures plus some children were used for Christian, Jewish and Muslim developments. It came as a surprise to learn that some ultra-Orthodox Jewish women are starting to totally cover, including the use of face veils, in order to have seclusion from the world. There was a very interesting film, which used actresses speaking for the various women, explaining what they were wearing, why and in some cases explaining the symbolism of the garments (Greek Orthodox nun) and the specific number of garments worn (Jewish). There is a catalogue to this exhibition, but it is only in Hebrew. A small but well balanced and presented exhibition that is worth seeing.