Adjust the interface to make it easier to use for different conditions.
This renders the document in high contrast mode.
This renders the document as white on black
This can help those with trouble processing rapid screen movements.
This loads a font easier to read for people with dyslexia.

Dressed for Eternity

Jewish Shrouds through the Ages

  • Date iconMarch 3 2023 - February 24 2024
  • Curator: Efrat Assaf-Shapira
  • Designer: Rona Cernica
  • Bella and Harry Wexner Gallery

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?

We invite you to join us on a journey in which the exemplars – taken mostly from the rich costume collection of the Israel Museum – will gradually reveal the answers to these questions and others. Perhaps, upon emerging from the exhibition, you’ll give some more thought to the view that sees death – shrouds included – as a natural continuation of life.


Set of woman's burial shrouds
Frankfurt am Main, Germany, late 19th – early 20th century
Linen, lace
Gift of the Shenhav, Moeller, Shragai, and Glick families, Israel, in memory of Recha Hamburger
Photo:© The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner