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Reader’s desk cover?, Ottoman-Empire, Bulgaria, 1921, Sc. 509- 11

Category: Ritual object



Name/Title: Unknown
Object: Reader’s desk cover?
Artist/Maker: Unkown
Date: 1921 (inscription)
Period: Bulgaria
Origin: Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria
Community: Bulgaria, Plovdiv, Yeshurun congregation (see: Remarks no. 1)
Collection: Sc.509- 11
Location: Sc.508
Site: Not relevant
School/Style: Ottoman type


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Reader’s desk cover

Cotton, metal threads
Cloth: bordeaux cotton velvet
Lining: cotton in tabby
Decoration: gold and silver metal threads in a laid and couched embroidery
                  Foundation: cardboard
Inscription: ochre cotton threads in laid and couched embroidery
                  Foundation: cardboard
Additions: paiets

Height: 860 mm
860 mm

Trade mark

Decoration program
See: Description.

The square Reader’s desk cover encloses a central floral motif, which comprises four baskets with flowers, surrounded by similar vases radiating from the corners and small flowers set in-between them.
A Hebrew dedicatory inscription, embroidered in square letters, is arranged vertically and around the central motif, and reads:

"לק"ק (לקהל קדוש) / הקדש ישורון / לזכר מרדכי חיים טאג'יר נ"ע (נוחו עדן) / שנהרג כ"ג ניסן ./. ת' פ' א' ר'  (5681; 1.05.1921 ) ביפו / בהגנו על כבוד עמנו / מהורי המנוח."

“Dedication to the holy congregation  hekdesh Yeshurun, in memory of Mordechai Haim Tager, may he rest in Eden, who was killed on the twenty-third of Nisan 5681 (1.05.1921) in Jaffa, while protecting the honour of our people, (dedicated) by the decease's parents.” (See: Remarks: no. 2)
The cloth is framed by a wavy flowering branch.

The cloth is apparently a secondary use of a pillow cover, typical of Ottoman embroideries. See: Yohas, Arigim.

The cloth is worn.


  1. Plovdiv is situated in south-eastern Bulgaria. Since the 18th century, most of the Jews were living in the Orta Mizar neighborhood, around a courtyard, which comprised public buildings, including synagogues, a beit midrash (a house of study) and a slaughterhouse. The Yeshurun synagogue, also named Il kahal grandi, in Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), was built on an unknown date on the ruins of an older synagogue from 1768 (fig. 1). The synagogue was renovated in 1848 (fig. 2) and demolished during the Communist regime. The Reader’s desk cover is one of two ritual objects that survived from this synagogue and testify to its existence. The other documented object is a Torah crown from 1930, see: Sc.508- 64.

Fig. 1. Dedication plaque of a synagogue built in 1768; The plaque was covered by the foundations of Yeshurun synagogue, CAHJP, 1494.1 / 46. Courtesy of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), Jerusalem


Fig. 2. Dedication plaque indicating the renovation of Yeshurun synagogue in 1848, CAHJP, 1494.1 / 47. Courtesy of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), Jerusalem


  1. The donors’ son was probably killed while defending the inhabitants of the Jewish immigrants' building in the ajami neighborhood in Jaffa, on 1 May 1921. The building was attacked by a riled-up Arab mob reinforced by Arab policemen (See: Fierberg, Yoman; Dinur, Me-hagganah, p. 77-109; Porat, Zemihat, p.104-108).
    The order of the letters which form the Hebrew year תרפא (5681) was changed in the dedicatory inscription to designate the Hebrew verb תפאר (you will glorify), to dignify the death of one who defended Jewish national honour.

- Ben-Zion, Dinur, ed. Me-hagganah le-ma`avak. Vol. 2, Part 1 of Sefer toldot Ha-hagganah. Tel-Aviv: Ministry of Defence, 1971.
- Fierberg, Haim. “Yoman ha-hagganah shel Tel-Aviv be-me`ora’ot tarpa, mabat bikorti ‘al makor histori.” In Homat magen: Shemonim shana le-irgun Ha-hagganah (Eighty years of the Hagganah), edited by Dani Hadari, 35-83. Alei-Zait Va-herev 4. Israel: Ministry of Defense and Galili Center for Defense Studies, 2002. In Hebrew.
- Nitzani, Jacob. “The Jewish Community of Plovdiev: The Mother City of Zionism in Bulgaria,” Reshumot, Vol. 5 (New Series; 1953): 25-50. In Hebrew.
- Porat, Yehoshu’a. Zemihat ha-tenu’a ha-leumit ha-‘arvit-ha-palestina`it 1918-1929. Jerusalem: The Institute of Asia and Africa Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1971. In Hebrew.
- Rosanes, Salomon. Korot ha-yehudim be-turkia ve-arzot kedem. Vol. 5. Sofia: Hamishpat, 1937-1938. In Hebrew.
- Yohas, Esther. “Arigim ve-rikmot ba-bayit u-be-beit ha-keneset.” In Yehudei Sepharad ba-imperia ha-ottomanit, edited by Esther Yohas, 64-119. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1989. In Hebrew.

Type: Original  
Photographer: Date: Negative no.:
Zev Radovan 08.98 879-26
Object: Photograph:  
Sc. 509 CJA  
Function: Name: Date:
Documenter Einat Ron and Gila Pollack 08.98
Researcher Einat Ron 10.07
Section Head Ariella Amar 10.07
Editor Judith Cardozo 10.07
IJA No.: Not relevant  


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