Challah cover

Challah cover

The challah cover (challah is the traditional bread eaten during the Sabbath and other feasts) is made of non-traditional material of an unusual color, and also bears a non-traditional inscription. Challah covers were most often made of white cotton, symbolizing dew. With its two layers, it protected the manna collected by the Israelites in the desert. The two loaves of the challah are reminiscent of the double portion of the manna for the Sabbath. Among the more typical inscriptions were, for example: “And He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Gen 2:2), or “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exod 20:8), or “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut 5:12), or in some cases “In honor of the Holy Sabbath and the day of the feast.” The claret velvet is at least as atypical as the inscription stitched on the cover. It is a quote from the Book of Proverbs “What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond that of rubies” (Prov 31:10).The quote stresses the vital role of the woman, the female head of the household, in lighting the Sabbath candles. There always have to be two of these: one to remember and the other to observe. At the same time, it refers to the custom of marital blessings, where on Friday evenings, the husband reads from the Book of Proverbs (Prov 31:10-31) to his wife and the wife recites Psalm 112 to her husband. The cover was probably made in the 1920s or 1930s, but may possibly have emerged in the post-war period. [JŠ]

Western Slovakia, first quarter of the 20th century
Velvet, yellow cotton thread
Height: 38 cm, width: 47 cm
ŽM-D 1188 XV-95