- The Israel Museum
Dressed for Eternity: Jewish Shrouds through the Ages
An exhibition on the clothing of the dead may elicit some discomfort; like all matters concerning death, it is a subject we’d rather not think about. Nevertheless, having chosen to focus on this sensitive topic, we discovered a fascinating world.
This exhibition of shrouds is the direct continuation of previous displays showcasing items of clothing and fashion in Jewish culture. As is the case with the clothes of the living, the story of the changing form of shrouds exemplifies the transition from traditional costume unique to each community, toward unification.
In the past, shrouds were sewn by members of the community, in some cases by the very people for whom they were eventually intended. How, then, did these garments arrive at the Museum?
When did the tradition of shroud-making begin? Is it customary among Jews only?
What items does a shroud set contain? Why is the color of shrouds almost always white, why are they made of cotton or linen, and what can we learn from the differences between the shrouds of various communities?