Searching for Chametz, Frankfurt
This postcard, designed by Hermann Junker, illustrates the search for chametz on the eve of Pesach in a Jewish household in Germany. A lit candlestick can be seen on the table, and the family is also using a candle to search for chametz. On the right of the illustration is a caption in German which reads: “The Easter Festival, search for chametz, (getting rid of chametz).”
It seems that the word Osterfest (Easter festival) was used interchangeably in German culture for both Easter and Passover.
Bedikat Chametz is the tradition of searching the house for chametz (leaven) that may have be forgotten and removing it before the start of the festival. The ceremonial search is performed by candlelight on the night before the Seder. Any chametz found is burnt the following day, traditionally in a bonfire, and any chametz not found is considered as "the dust of the earth."
Jews have been living in Frankfurt since the middle of the twelfth century, longer than any other German city. Frankfurt became a centre for European Jews. It was a very wealthy community, hosting a number of important yeshivas and producing many leading figures.
This postcard could be used in Jewish Studies lessons to explain about the eve of Pesach and Bedikat Chametz. Students could compare this postcard to their own experiences. It could be used alongside other resources that illustrate the search for chametz.
What tradition is illustrated in this drawing?
Who are the different characters in the scene?
What is the relationship between them?
Who is the woman holding the broom?
What can we learn about the family's status from the details in the background?
The title of the postcard is Osterfest. Look up this word in an online German dictionary.
Why do you think the term Osterfest was used for both Easter and Passover?
What is the purpose of the candelabra hanging from the ceiling?
Have you ever attended a Bedikat Hametz ceremony?
What did the family members do?
Did the ceremony look similar to this illustration?