The eighteenth century witnessed a rising interest on the part of the broader European community about the "curiosities" of the Jewish religion. Numerous books were written by Jewish converts and Christian Hebraists that offered explanations of the secrets and mysteries of the practice of Judaism. In 1708, Johann Friedrich Mayer (1650–1712), professor of theology at Greifswald, had a model synagogue erected in his home. After Mayer's death, the synagogue was acquired by the University of Leipzig; shortly thereafter, August the Strong, the Elector of Saxony, requested that the synagogue be sent to Dresden where, along with a model of Solomon's Temple, it was exhibited in the famed Zwinger palace. Descriptions of Mayer's synagogue and its furnishings were published in 1708, 1712, and 1715.
The present volume, authored by Moritz Wilhelm Christiani, a Jewish convert to Christianity, describes an elaborate replica of what may have been yet another, fully furnished Jewish synagogue, this one owned by Georg Serpilius, a Christian Hebraist. Serpilius studied theology at Leipzig; he was appointed deacon in Dresden and subsequently Superintendent at Regensburg. These replicas, furnished with a full array of Jewish books and ceremonial objects, and accessible to a broad public, constituted the world's first "Jewish museums."
Literature: Michael Korey, "The Temple of Solomon and the Jewish Cabinet in the Dresden Zwinger: The Search for Their Historic Traces" in Fragments of Memory: The Temple of Solomon in the Zwinger of Dresden. Facets of a Baroque Architectural Model and an Early Jewish Museum, M. Korey and T. Ketelsen (eds), Munich, 2010. Elisheva Carlebach. Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500-1750. New Haven, 2001.
Provenance: Hamburg, Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek-deaccesioned.
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