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Bowl Fragments with Menorah, Shofar, and Torah Ark

Jewish glass bowl from the Roman period.

Unknown Jewish Roman artisan
300-350 CE

Unknown Jewish Roman artisan. Bowl Fragments with Menorah, Shofar, and Torah Ark, 300 – 350 CE, Rogers Fund, 1918, Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 18.145.1a, b,


There are two important holidays you will not analyze in this source set: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They are called the High Holy Days, and both of them are in the Jewish month of Tishri. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement on this day, Jews fast, pray, and repent for their sins. The ancient bowl you see in the picture has a Torah ark, menorah, and shofar on it. The Torah ark is a cabinet where Torah scrolls are kept for worship in a synagogue (the place where modern Jews worship). The shofar is a horn that is blown in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur.

The two holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are very significant holidays for the religion. Yom Kippur originated from the Torah, without apparent influence from the agricultural cycle or historical events. Rosh Hashanah is agricultural in origin, because it marked the beginning of the cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest as the new year. Students should be able to recognize which objects on the bowl are the Torah ark, menorah, and shofar. The Torah ark is a cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept. All religions have sacred objects in their places of worship. Consider asking students to brainstorm some objects from other religions.