Unknown (estimated after 1909)
Silver with gold accents
14.5 x 10.5 inches
Torah shields, which are often called breastplates, are an Ashkenazi
(Eastern European) tradition. As part of the Torah dress, they are hung
by a chain from the Torah staves so that they rest flat on the Torah’s mantle.
This shield has a familiar design, with a Torah crown at the top with
standing lions at the sides. The Ten Commandment tablets are hinged to
open, revealing a tiny golden Torah inside. Below, a small box with a
hinged door holds interchangeable plates that are inscribed with the
names of holidays, festivals or simply “Shabbat.” The plates have a
practical purpose, indicating the reading to which the Torah scroll
inside has been rolled. Like the Torah crown and finials, shields often
have bells attached, drawing attention to the Torah as it is lifted and
carried through the congregation as a part of the service.
This Torah Shield is inscribed “Congregation Kahal Adath Jeshurun
with the men of Anshe Lubz,” indicating that it probably was
acquired—and definitely engraved—after the merger of the two
congregations in 1909.