Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research: Ceremonial Objects

26 січня 2018

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) are pleased to publish the Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research: Ceremonial Objects .  This online Handbook is meant to help museum staff, researchers, auctioneers, collectors, lawyers, private persons, dealers and other interested parties to trace Judaica objects that were looted or displaced during the 20th century, especially during World War II. These objects may be found in Jewish and non-Jewish museum collections; in private collections; in Jewish institutions such as communities, synagogues, seminaries; and on the market.

The Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets resulted in the Terezin Declaration, which for the first time specifically dealt internationally with looted Judaica separately from looted art.  The Prague Conference was followed by the establishment of the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI), which as part of its Advisory Council appointed a Working Group on Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property chaired by Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek and with the following members: Inka Bertz​​​, Julie-Marthe Cohen, Daniel Dratwa, Wesley Fisher​​​, Karen Franklin​​​, Rhoda Rosen​​​, Hila Tene-Gilad​​​, Photini Tomai-Constantopoulou, and Magda Veselská​​​. Over the years that followed, many of the members of this Working Group held discussions among themselves – generally in conjunction with meetings of the Association of European Jewish Museums (AEJM) – about what would be most helpful to the field of provenance research on Judaica and what should happen concerning the restitution or other disposition of looted Judaica.  One of their conclusions was the need for a handbook on Judaica provenance research.

While some similar guides or manuals exist regarding provenance research on looted art, nothing comparable to date has existed for Judaica.  The nature of objets d’art differs substantially from that of Judaica, and consequently so does the research to be carried out. For example, the uniqueness of individual paintings and sculptures differs from the serial character of Judaica objects; there are far more publications that help to identify a given painting than there are for identifying a Judaica piece; and while Nazi looting agencies often registered works of art systematically, they did not do so regarding looted Judaica, and the same seems to be true of Allied postwar records.

The Handbook covers research of two different categories: classical provenance research, which deals with tracing an object at hand to its original owner, and research which deals with establishing the location of a lost object. It consists of four parts:

The authors of the Handbook are Julie-Marthe Cohen, Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, and Ruth Jolanda Weinberger:


ISSN 2519-4755 (електронний журнал)

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