Focus Questions

What does this object make you think of?  Does it remind you of something you have seen before?

Which part of the object do you notice most?  Why did you notice that part?

How do you think this object was used?

Have you noticed...The bells hanging on the rimmonim? What do you think they are symbolic of? Click to reveal answer

Bells are a common symbol in Jewish art and are associated with Aaron, the first High Priest of Judaism. It is said that the High Priest’s robe was adorned with bells and embroidered with pomegranates.

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Rimmonim

Rimmonim

Rimmonim

Hexagonal three tiered Rimmonim used at the Hambro Synagogue in London.

Rimmonim
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The Object

Object name: Rimmonim
Date: c. 1695
Catalogue number: JM 102
Material(s): Silver & Gilt
Size: 47 cm in height

Artist: Unknown
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

This pair of silver rimmonim was made by an unknown artist in the late 17th century in the Netherlands, probably in Amsterdam. They were used at the Hambro synagogue in London which was founded in 1707.

  • Rimmonim are ornamental objects which decorate the tops of the roller handles of the Torah. The Torah is the holy book of the Jewish people, and it is important to treat the Torah with honour and respect. The Torah is housed in an ark called an Aron Kodesh in Hebrew. The Torah is often decorated with special ornamental objects while housed in the Aron Kodesh. The Torah scroll is wrapped in silk, or another fine fabric, and decorated with a breastplate and rimmonim. This special ornamentation distinguishes the Torah as a sacred object in Judaism.

  • Rimmonim literally means ‘pomegranates’ in Hebrew. Many rimmonim are styled and shaped to remind Jewish people of pomegranates. Pomegranates are an important symbol in Jewish culture. Pomegranates are said to have 613 seeds, which reminds Jews of the 613 commandments of the Torah.

  • Bells are a common symbol in Jewish art and are associated with Aaron, the first High Priest of Judaism. It is said that the High Priest’s robe was adorned with bells and embroidered with pomegranates.

  • Look closely at the rimmonim to see the three different sections which make up the entire structure. The lowest section is dome shaped, the middle section is shaped like an architectural tower, and the highest section comes together with a decorative pineapple at the top. Pineapples are symbolic of hospitality and welcome.

Hambro Synagogue

Hambro Synagogue, interior, c. 1890, photograph taken by W. Ellis

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The Story

The Hambro Synagogue

The Hambro Synagogue was the second Ashkenazi synagogue in London, the first being The Great Synagogue. Ashkenazi refers to Jews of Eastern European origin. The Hambro Synagogue was founded in 1707 as an independent offshoot of The Great Synagogue. It was founded by Marcus Hamburger in his own house in Magpie Alley (today called St. James’s passage) near Fenchurch Street. In 1725 the synagogue was enlarged to include the area once occupied by the garden of Hamburger’s house. The building was torn down in 1893 to make room for city improvements. In 1899 the Hambro Synagogue community moved to a new building on Adler Street in the East End. The Hambro operated there until it was closed in 1936 and the congregation merged with that of The Great Synagogue.

 

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