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Met Corrects Online Entry for Jewish Tefillin Mislabeled as Egyptian ‘Amulet’

The Met’s old entry of a Jewish artifact incorrectly labeled as an “Egyptian Amulet”
The Met’s old entry of a Jewish artifact incorrectly labeled as an “Egyptian Amulet”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is fixing a mistake that went unnoticed for years — a label that described an ancient Jewish Tefillin as an an Egyptian amulet.

The box, dating from 500 to 1000 AD, came to the Met in 1962, although the museum insists the charm classification happened only “in recent years.”

The brouhaha began after Twitter sleuths noticed the mislabeled artifact, which was designed to hold verses from the Torah.

“Hey @metmuseum we have a slight problem … why are you calling #teffilin an ‘amulet’ and then categorizing it as #islamic art when it’s literally the most sacred religious item for men in Judaism?!,” tweeted the account for StopAntiSemitism.Org.

On Monday, the Met quietly updated the online entry — changing the word “amulet” to “phylactery,” the technical term for Tefillin. Right now, the object can’t be seen by the public because the museum is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We always appreciate feedback on our collection entries – as it is a catalogue we continually update.  The Islamic department houses some objects from 6th century Egypt among its diverse holdings, and we have updated the object description to capture that it is a Jewish ritual object. We look forward to working on providing additional context,” a museum spokesman told The Post.

The Met's corrected entry version of the artifact.
The Met’s corrected entry version of the artifact.

The Tefllin certainly could be found in Egypt, where Jews have a history in the country dating back to the days of Exodus, according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, a professor at Yeshiva University and a Met regular.

Though now correctly labeled, the Tefillin remains in the museum’s Department of Islamic art, which Genack calls absurd.

“It can’t be called Islamic art,” he told The Post. “There was a Jewish population in Egypt and this came for that time but it’s certainly not Islamic art. That’s just false.”