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Donation plaque for alms, Italy, Piedmont, Mondovi, 18th c., Sc.530- 26

Category: Ritual object

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Name/Title: Luah Menadvim le-Zedakah (a  donor plaque for alms)
Object: Donation plaque for alms
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Date: 18th century
Period: Savoy Royalty
Origin: Piedmont, Italy, Mondovi
Community: Piedmont community
Collection: Sc.530- 26b
Location: Sc.530
Site: Not relevant
School/Style: Local


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In most Jewish communities around the world, it is customary,that a man who is called up to the Torah in a synagogue, pays an amount of money to the synagogue for the honour. This custom can be problematic since on Sabbaths and festivals it is prohibited to deal with or even to mention money.
This was the reason for the development of plaques such as the one described below. This plaque was used for registering the "sale" of Torah readings and other donations on Sabbaths and festivals – to avoid directly speaking of monetary matters. The plaque allowed the sum of money which was to be paid on a weekday by the members of the community accorded an honour, to be marked in a clever way: A list of the community members was set beside a vertical row of holes with attached threads, inscribed with a sum of money. During the "sale" of the Torah readings, the threads were then drawn out in order to mark the specific sum donated, corresponding to the name of the donor. 
It is still unknown when the communities in Piedmont started this custom. The earliest plaque documented dates back to 1703, and is inscribed with names of members who prayed in the Mondovi synagogue (Sc.530- 25). Apart from representing the custom, these plaques provide a valuable genealogical list of the families, arranged according to the synagogues, who lived in Piedmont from the early eighteenth century. Moreover, a comparison of lists from different periods reveals the development or the decline of a specific synagogue, as for example the two plaques of Asti that point to the diminishing number of its members who read the Torah during the service in the nineteenth century (Sc 528.39).  

Material & Technique
Wood, paper, ink, parchment

Length: 317 mm
Width: 260 mm

Not relevant

Decoration Program
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The narrow rectangular plaque is surmounted by an arched undulating top, with an opening for hanging. The plaque is titled with a Hebrew inscription:

/ לחלק לכל קופות"נדבות"

"Donations to distribute to all the donation boxes"
The plaque is inscribed with a list of the Levi and Momigliano families and their first names, written on a paper attached to the right. The left side is pierced with 35 rows of holes, 10 holes in each row. Hebrew letters are inscribed alphabetically above the first row. The letters are divided into two groups : soldi and litrin, which are names of small Italian coins.
Within most holes are threads knotted on both ends. Each second row of the holes is empty.
The following is the list of the Levi and Momigliano members of the community:

Benjamin Levi

בנימין לוי

Judah Levi

יהודה לוי

Michael Levi

מיכאל לוי

Mordechai Levi

מרדכי לוי

Menahem Levi

מנחם לוי

Jonathan Levi, son of Judah

יונתן לוי ב(ן) יהודה

Jonathan Levi, son of Raphael

יונתן לוי ב(ן) רפאל

Isaac Levi

יצחק לוי

Joseph Levi, son of Salomon

יוסף לוי ב(ן) שלמה

Jonathan Levi, son of Isaac

יונתן לוי ב(ן) יצחק

David Momigliano

דוד מומיליאנו

Salomon Momigliano

שלמה מומיליאנו

Jonathan Momigliano

יונתן מומיליאנו

Samuel ? Momigliano

שמואל ? מומיליאנו

David Momigliano

דוד מומיליאנו

The plaque was used in the Mondovi synagogue. It appears that only two families prayed in this small and lavish synagogue. A descendant of the Levi family – Marco Levi – was the last Jew who lived in Mondovi, after WWII and took care of the synagogue, till he died in 2001 (see: figs.1,2).  


Fig. 1. (Left) Marco Levi sitting behind the Torah Ark

Fig. 2. (Top) The Mondovi synagogue, beginning of the 18th century

The plaque is in good condition.



Type: Original  
Photographer: Date: Negative no.:
Zev Radovan 07.00 922-27
Object: Photograph:  
Sc.528 CJA  
Function: Name: Date:
Documenter Eliad Moreh 07.00
Researcher Ariella Amar 06.04
Section Head Ariella Amar 06.04
Editor Judith Cardozo 11.07
IJA No.: Not relevant    


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