The Leon J. and Julia S. Obermayer Collection of Jewish Ritual Art is showcased in the Thalheimer Lobby at Congregation Rodeph Shalom. More than 500 works of Jewish ceremonial art were entrusted to Rodeph Shalom by the Obermayers in 1985. In 1987, the Broad Street entrance was refurbished to permanently exhibit the works from the Obermayer Collection. The collection demonstrates the unique relationship between the Jews' quest for beauty in articles used in religious rites and art of the countries in which they lived.
The collection began with heirlooms and grew with an appreciation and enjoyment of the Obermayer's religious and cutural heritage. Assembling a major collection of Jewish ceremonial objects was more than an act of acquisition for the Obermayers. Many individual pieces were regularly used in the family's religious observances. Although treated with respect, they were considered part of a home, not a museum.
The objects are grouped according to the particular life cycle, event, or holiday they illustrate and originate from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century.