96 Mohel chair

Móhelszék <br /><em>Circumcision Chair</em>

Óbuda, 1820

Upholstered wood, gold plated details and copper overlay

From the collection of the Jewish Museum of Óbuda, 1950

This type of double chair is a widespread piece of furniture among Ashkenazi Jews, used for the ceremony of circumcision. According to the Torah, there are two signs of the covenant between God and the Jewish people: the observance of the Shabbat and the circumcision of infant boys on the eighth day after their birth. The rituals of the circumcision ceremony developed on the one hand as a result of strict and careful rabbinic rulings, and on the other hand from superstitions and legends. Traditionally, the godfather (kvater or sandek) sits on the left, holding the infant in his lap, and the seat on the right is reserved for the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah). The figure of Eliyahu is closely connected to the events of birth and circumcision in Jewish tradition: his presence strengthens the covenant, and wards off evil, malicious demons. The double chairs of Eliyahu have been common items of furniture in synagogues. Their design and style represent typical furniture art of the period. From the end of the nineteenth century, when state health authorities started to pay more attention to circumcision ceremonies in Hungary, they have not been used anymore. This chair was restored in 2015 with the support of the Circle of Friends of the museum.

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