Dedicatory plaque, Greece, Ioannina, 1850, 1899, Sc. 525 (267)
Category: Ritual object
The silver dedicatory plaque is part of a unique group of sacred objects known as shadai'ot (shadai'a in singular). The custom of donating these plaques is common among the Greek Romaniot communities. The name shadai'a is derived from God’s name, "אל שדי " (El Shadai = God Almighty) - which usually heads the dedicatory inscription. The plaque is also called a "takhshit," namely an ornament, which adorns the Torah, a term often inscribed on the plaques. This shadai'a is part of a larger group of plaques, documented in several collections around the world, which together forms the most comprehensive collection of shadai'ot.
The dedication of silver plaques as sacred objects is unique to the Greek Romaniot communities. Some inscriptions do reveal that occasionally they were donated with other ritual objects, such as a Torah scroll, a parokhet, or a mappah. Yet, unlike the common custom in other communities, they were not attached to specific ritual objects at the time of the donation. When a large number of shadai'ot plaques were assembled in a synagogue they were sewn on to a parokhet in a reversed "Π" shape. Some were also attached to Torah case wrappers or belts, which were probably hung along the walls of the synagogue on different occasions.
Although the events mentioned in the dedicatory inscriptions occurred at different times, the plaques were consistently donated to the synagogue on special days in the Jewish Year. The three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavu'ot, Sukkot) are common, as well as Rosh Ha-shanah, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hodesh (the New Moon) and Sabbaths. Rarely does the date of the donation mentioned on the plaque indicate another day of the week.
The custom was practiced among the Romaniot communities of Arta, Ioannina, Previzia, and is still practiced in Trikala and Larissa. No differences were noticeable between the two congregations in Ioannina concerning shape, dedicatory formulas or names of donors. The only distinction between the Old and New Holy Congregations is the name of the synagogue (when it appears). Most shadai'ot from Trikala and Larissa, documented recently, differ from the others and are shaped as Stars of David enclosed within circles. Few of them maintain the early linguistic dedicatory formulas.
The shadai'ot are important historical documents, which reflect both the artistic and the cultural heritage of the Romaniot communities in Greece. Their importance goes beyond the art of sacred objects; this unique custom offers a fascinating window to the rich Greek Jewish culture in the past four hundred years.
Material & Technique
Decoration: engraved, punched
The name of the Lord El Shadai (God Almighty) heads the dedicatory inscription.
Two similar leaf-shaped plaques are attached, back to back. Each encloses a Hebrew inscription framed by a protruding stem-like strip following the form of the plaque. The inscription on the front side is arranged in twelve lines and is written in square, outlined letters that read:
"אל/ שדי/ המפה והתכשיט/ האלו הקדישם/ הנער חיים/ משה בטינו הי''ו (ה' ישמרהו ויחיהו)/ לחייו ולחיי אביו/ ואמו הי''ו (ה' ישמרם ויחים) בק''ק (קהל קדוש) חדש/ יאנינא יעא (יכוננה עליון אמן) בשנת/ 'אשר בחרת באברם' (נחמיה ט:ז)/ לפ'ק (לפרט קטן) וסדר בחדש/ השלישי לפג''דו (לפרט גדול)"
"El Shadai (God Almighty), these mappah (cloth) and the ornament were dedicated by the lad Haim Moses Battinou, may the Lord sustain and protect him, for his life and for the life of his father and mother, may the Lord sustain and protect them, in the New Holy Congregation (of) Ioannina, may the Sublime establish it, amen. (Donated) on the year 'who didst choose Abram' (Neh. 9:7) and (the year of) the order on the third month. "
The sum of the letters of the marked word "בחרת " from the verse "who didst choose Abram" equals the sum of the marked letters of the word "השליש " (the third) and indicates the year month of Sivan (the third month) the year 5610 (05.1850 or 06.1850).
A thin stem appears bellow the inscription.
The plaque attached to the back side, was donated to the synagogue fifty years after the first plaque was donated, as a gratitude to the Lord. It appears that after a theft the sacred objects they were found and were returned to the synagogue. This remarkable event was venerate in the second plaque, written in fourteen lines, in square, outlined letters. It reads:
"מנחת זכרון/ זה נגנב עם שאר/ כלי קודש ביום/ ז' אדר א' שנה זו/ ונמצאו והזלתי/ מכיסי וכפלתי אותו/ כנראה מעבר האחר/ את אשר נהיה והקדשתיו/ בחדש (בחודש) הראשון ש' (שנת) התרס/ לבריאת עולם אני חיים/ משה בטינו נרו (נטריה רחמנא וברכיה (ישמרהו הרחמן ויברכו)) ושלום/ ובא סימן (מבוסס על ישעיה נט:כ) 'זכר עשה/ לנפלאותיו' (תהלים קיא:ד)/ לפ''ג
"An offering for the memory (of the event, see: Remarks no. 2): this (plaque) was stolen together with other sacred objects on the seventh day of first Adar, of this year (06.02.1900), and they were found. And I poured out my money and doubled it, as it can be seen on the other side (of the plaque). And I Haim Moses Battinou, may the Merciful protect and bless him, dedicated it on the first month the year 5660 (09.1899 or 10.1899) for the Creation of the world. And '(the year) and the Sign (of the Redeemer) would come' (based on Jes. 59:20), 'He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered' (Ps. 111:4)"
The sum of the marked letters of the verse "He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered" indicates the year 5660=1900.
A suspension ring is at the top of the plaque.
- The back side plaque is the unique historical document, telling about the theft of ritual objects from the New Holy Congregation Synagogue in 1899 and their discovery in the same year. These events are not recorded in any other place. The donor of the plaque attached it to a shadai'a, that he donated as a youth fifty years before and that was among the stolen items
- There were two synagogue compounds in Ioannina: the Old Holy Congregation and the New Holy Congregation. The Old Congregation Synagogue was probably built in the 17th century, although its name for the first time appeared on a dedicatory plaque dating to 1726 (Sc. 525 (215)). The fact that the Old Congregation Synagogue is mentioned only from this date onward indicates the erection of a new synagogue – namely the New Holy Congregation and probably reflects the need to distinguish between the two synagogues.
The front side plaque is broken, crooked and crumpled. The back side plaque is in good condition.
- The letters "א " and "ל " on the front side appear as ligatures.
- The inscription of the back side plaque indicates this shadai'a as "מנחת זכרון " (an offering for the memory) once again revealing an analogy between donating of these plaques to the synagogue and the sacrifices in the times of the Temples.
|Zev Radovan||07.2001||997-28, 29|
|Section Head||Ariella Amar|
|IJA No.:||Not relevant|