Prayer Book Bag


When traveling a long distance, one often must travel light. This small prayer bag, used to hold a Jewish prayer book, was the choice of one German immigrant. The drawstring leather pouch, measuring 6-3/4" x 6-3/8", is covered with multicolored beadwork in floral and geometric patterns and bears the initials "L.R.S.," for Lazarus Roth Schild. The bag was made for him as an engagement present between 1810 and1825, then given to his son, about to depart for St. Louis, Missouri. Like many immigrants to America from the 1830s to the mid-19th century, the owner of this prayer bag had no choice but to leave his country of origin. He wanted to marry, but in some German municipalities, no Jews were allowed to marry unless there was proof that another Jewish community member had died. Other regions had laws requiring that Jewish families keep a Matrikel, or list of "all legally permitted families," and prohibited others from living there. One German publication noted in 1839 that the laws "make it little short of impossible for young Israelites to set up housekeeping in Bavaria; often their head is adorned with gray hair before they receive permission to set up house and can, therefore, think of marriage."

Date Made: ca 1810 - 1825

User: Roth Schild, Lazurus

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany

Subject: JudaismImmigrationPrayerFamilyWeddings


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Religion, Religion


Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Grossman, Grace Cohen, with Richard Eighme Ahlborn. Judaica at the Smithsonian: Cultural Politics as Cultural Model, Myers, Susan H.. The Promise of a New Life: Jewish Immigrants in America, 1820-1880

Credit Line: Gift of Louis S. Rothschild

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CL.61.0367Accession Number: 235938Catalog Number: 61.0367

Object Name: bag

Physical Description: skin, leather (overall material)glass (beads material)Measurements: overall: 6 3/4 in x 6 3/8 in; 17.145 cm x 16.1925 cm


Record Id: nmah_1166730

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