Dressed for Eternity: Jewish Shrouds through the Ages

Dressed for Eternity: Jewish Shrouds through the Ages

An Exhibition from the Collections of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem


Dressed for Eternity surveys the traditional use of burial shrouds – garments that mirror attitudes to death, but also to life – in Jewish communities at different times and in different parts of the world. Drawing on the Israel Museum’s exceptional collection of Jewish dress, the exhibition invites visitors to consider the roles played by shrouds, not only at the time of burial, but as an element in outfits that are worn in life on significant occasions, whether observing solemn holidays or celebrating one’s marriage.

Offering insight into Jewish religious practices, as well as the evolution of shroud designs and customs in the broader contexts of period and surrounding culture, the exhibition focuses on the design, purpose, and various uses of these garments. Shrouds are both timeless and temporal, and the visually powerful show reveals continuity of color, shape, and pattern, as well as a diversity of fabrics, fashion influences, and methods.

A section of the exhibition is devoted to the question of continuity/preservation versus innovation/renewal and includes a series of intricate, custom-made shrouds designed by the contemporary Israeli artist Zivia Kay. Exploring the relationship between shrouds and their wearer’s biography, Kay’s unique work unfolds a multitude of approaches to death and tradition – as does the exhibition as a whole.

At the Israel Museum the Exhibition utilizes 238 square meters but it can be adapted according to the hosting museum gallery space. The exhibition will be available from 2024 thereafter and is accompanied by an English/Hebrew catalogue.