- The motif of two guardant lions with human faces, set in a heraldic composition was common in Jewish art of Eastern Europe. This motif was copied frequently and was spread around the world. It also reached the Ottoman Empire, and was one of the decorations depicted on front pages of printed books. The depiction of such lions on some shadai'ot was probably modeled after front pages, such as those printed in Judah b. David Hazan's printing house in Izmir between the years 1754-1767 (see: fig. 2).
- Two identical plaques were donated for the same occasion to the synagogue, see: plaque JMG-66 (98.55).
The "Greek and Turkish War" mentioned in the inscription refers to the first Balkan War (1912-1913). As a result of this war, on 21st February 1913, Ioannina became part of Greece.
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 contemporary shadai'ot from Trikala and Larissa 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.
The dedicatory inscription is topped by a crown and flanked by two guardant lions.
- 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 establishment of a new synagogue – namely the New Holy Congregation and probably reflects the need to distinguish between the two synagogues.
- The plaque was donated to the Museum by the Jewish community of Ioannina on 29.06.98.
- Amar, Ariella, and Irina Chernetsky. Shadai'ot: The Collection of the Jewish Museum of Greece. Jerusalem: The Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006. Internal publication.
- Ya'ari, Abraham. Hebrew Printers' Marks from the Beginning of Hebrew Printing to the End of the 19th Century. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Press, 1944. In Hebrew.