If the practical aspect of Judaism were not connected with the inner experience of the individual, then Jewish tradition would seem meaningless to most people. The rituals of the Sabbath are connected with the ideas of celebrating the creation of the world by resting, by dedicating oneself to domestic life or perhaps one's own inner life. Legends about angels visiting the family at the Sabbath table, or of the prophet Elijah, who is said to invisibly witness circumcisions, often imprint themselves strongly on the minds of children and become part of their inner universe. Even in a modern world with healthy scientific scepticism, myths and symbols are important elements of the religious sphere.
And now, said the Father, we would start seriously on the Gemoro, so that they, when you come to Copenhagen, will be convinced that we from the countryside are not completely witless...
Then began the study of the old rabbis' clever, subtle, hair-splitting law commentaries, interwoven with interesting stories, legends and anecdotes, which eased the daily toil and made it attractive...
Thus Jacob learned about his people's mysterious teachings. The world in which his spirit moved appeared to him as a row of quiet cells within the Temple of Solomon, where holy men sat praying; he often felt he was standing in the long, low temple with the small windows, but with rich, golden ornaments twisting in strange entanglements, and fantastic, mysterious figures; from the temple's forecourt he heard the crowd of believers mumble prayers around the priest, and the God of Zion speaking to them softly.
From Meir Aaron Goldschmidt: A Jew, 1845
...There we went, I on my mother's arm. One does not drive on such a day, through the streets of Copenhagen, while the Belgians panted by and the wagons rumbled and everyone was busy.
We felt like little kings and queens, owning a world all to ourselves into which other people were not initiated. Everywhere in the city you would meet this little procession of meticulous pedestrians dressed in black: on Købmagergade, Nørrevold, from Landemærket, Borgergade, Adelgade, Hummergade, and Nikolajgade. A world which has now disappeared. People would shake hands: Gut Yomtov. It is the Day of Atonement: Let all strife be forgotten, all outbursts of anger. All evil is lulled to sleep over the pages of the prayer books. We become happy, blasé, well-behaved children.
From Sam Besekow: The Tailor's Son, 1964
Now you can catch a glimpse behind the scenes at the museum, and see what else is going on. Follow us @thedanishjewishmuseum
Get a discount of 10% at selected cafés by showing your ticket from the museum (Photo: Eddie Michel Azoulay).
- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark
The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...
September - May:
Tuesday-Friday: 1 pm - 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 noon - 5 pm