In pictures: Blood – Jewish sex, circumcision and culture

In a provocative exhibition now open at the Jewish Museum in London, visitors are able to discover how blood has been used as a complex symbol among Jewish communities for more than 2,000 years

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Using posters, ceremonial objects, and manuscripts, the exhibition reveals how over the centuries blood has influenced perceptions of sex, circumcision, and even food.

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Titled ‘Blood’, the exhibition also highlights the racial discrimination Jews have faced through history, from 15th-century Spain to Nazi Germany in the 20th century.

Here, we look at some exhibition highlights… 

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Circumcision knife, Germany. Early 18th century. © Jewish Museum Collection

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Nuremberg Laws poster, 1935. © US Holocaust Memorial Museum

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‘Circumcision of Christ’, Tucher alatarpiece. © Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen. Photo: Anne Gold Aachen

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A card promoting blood donations in America, 1944. © Jewish Museum Collection

L0052036 The star of David incorporating a needle; representing AIDS
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
The star of David incorporating a needle; representing AIDS among Jews and the work of the Jewish Aids Trust. Black and white lithograph.
19uu By: Jewish Aids Trust.Published: [19--]

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Jewish AIDS Trust poster. © Wellcome Library, London

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Circumcision kit, 1844. © Jewish Museum Collection

V0010560 The first plague in Egypt, rivers turned to blood.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
The first plague in Egypt, rivers turned to blood. Coloured etching. 

Lettering: Die erste Plage in Egyptenland, oder die Verwandlung alles Wassers in Blut. ... 2. Mose cap. 7.v.19, 20, 25. La premiere plaÔe en Egypte. ... Exode cap. 7.v.20, 21, 25. 
The lettering above is in French and reversed. 
Lettering continues with paragraphs describing the particular plague.
Coloured etching
1775/1779 Published: [1775/1779]

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

‘The First Plague in Egypt: Rivers Turn to Blood’. © Wellcome Library, London

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A wooden board for koshering meat by draining blood, c1955. © Jewish Museum Collection

L0052035 AIDS as a disease which affects people of all ethnic
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
AIDS as a disease which affects people of all ethnic origins; advertising the Jewish Aids Trust. Black and white lithograph.
19uu By: Jewish Aids Trust.Published: [19--]

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Jewish AIDS Trust poster. © Wellcome Library, London

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‘Blood’ is on show at the Jewish Museum in London until 28 February 2016. To find out more, click here.