We are surrounded by symbols. Thousands of signs, commercial logos and ags surround us every day. We only need see the logo of a car company or a fashion brand, in
order to evoke in us strong feelings and resolute thoughts towards the product that this symbol represents. These symbols also shape our opinions of the person holding
them, and have an extraordinary power to convey to he who observers them, within seconds and without words, clear and precise messages: national affiliation, gender or
sexual identity, social and economic status. Nowadays we have even managed to reduce our feelings, thoughts and desires to a whole language full of symbols - emoji.
The role of symbols in the Jewish world is not absent either, and we nd them in Jewish art from its inception to the present day. However, among the Jews of Italy a rather
unique custom has developed - the adoption of family symbols. The reasons and conditions that led to the development of this special custom are many. Although the
phenomenon is not exclusive to Italian Jews, there is no doubt that its scope among Italian Jews surpasses all other examples elsewhere. These numbers can only hint at
the importance of family symbols for those who held them. Italian Jews numbered at their peak no more than 50,000 and yet, there is documentation of about 250 families
which are associated with at least one family symbol. this number can only hint at the importance of family symbols for those who held them.
The exhibition "Family matters" provides a glimpse into some of the most unique characteristics of this phenomenon, as well as some of its social and cultural implications. Through observing not only the symbols themselves, but also the context in which they were used, their social and cultural meanings are revealed. Another aspect emphasized in this exhibition is the unique stories of the items on display. several exhibits were chosen to illuminate some aspects of the use of family symbols.
As you walk through the galleries, you might notice that many of the treasures on display, could easily have been displayed in other galleries as well. For a reason that may not be straightforward and obvious at first, the exhibits found their place in one room and not the other. The reason lies in the fact that a phenomenon so unique, so rich and full of meaning, allows us to examine many objects from several points of view and through several different lenses.
צילומי הצבה: צבי הנרי כהן