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Elijah’s chair


A chair or bench that is left empty for the Prophet Elijah.


In most communities, Elijah’s chair is displayed during the circumcision ceremony in the synagogue or at home. When there are two seats, one is for the sandak holding the baby, and the other is left for Elijah. In some communities, such as Bukhara and Irak, an empty chair was left in the sukkah for the Prophet Elijah. In the Comtat venaissin (South of France), it is a miniature armchair displayed high up. The bench is typical of Rhineland communities (Alsace, Germany, Switzerland).


  • Hebrewכיסא אליהו
  • GermanElias-Stuhl
  • RussianКресло пророка Элиягу
  • FrenchChaise du Prophète Élie
  • DutchStoel van Elia
  • ItalianSedia di Elia
  • CzechEliášovo křeslo
  • HungarianIllés széke
  • SpanishSillón de Elías
  • GreekΚάθισμα του Ελιγιά
  • PolishKrzesło Eliasza
  • Arabicكرسي إلياهو
  • Yiddishכּיסא־של־אליהו
  • LadinoSiya del profeta Eliyahu


Jacoby, Ruth. “The Small Elijah Chair.” Journal of Jewish Art, ed. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, vol. 18: Sepharad, 1992, pp. 70-77.

Jacoby, Ruth. “Ma Bein Kiseh Ha-sandak Le-kiseh Eliyahu [The Relation between the Elijah’s Chair and the Godfather’s Chair].” Rimonim, ed. Shalom Sabar, vol. 5, 1997, pp. 43-53.

Juhasz, Esther, ed. Sephardi Jews in the Ottoman Empire: Aspects of Material Culture. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1990, pp. 262-67.

Leben, Yemima. “Minhagim Ha-kshurim Be-kiseh Eliyahu Be-kerev Yehudei Drom Tunisia [Customs Pertaining to the Elijah’s Chair in the Jewish Communities of Southern Tunisia].” Rimonim, ed. Shalom Sabar, vol. 5, 1997, pp. 54-55.

Perugia Sztulman, Gioia. “A Sandak’s Chair from Mantua: An Historical, Minhagic and Artistic Evaluation.” Studia Rosenthaliana, vol. 37, Peeters, 2004, pp. 55–75.

Sabar, Shalom. “Childbirth and Magic: Jewish Folklore and Material Culture.” Cultures of the Jews: A New History, ed. David Biale, New York: Schocken Books, 2002, pp. 670-722.

Sabar, Shalom. “Prophet Elijah Visits the Circumcision Ceremony: A Rare Elijah Chair from Early Nineteenth Century Venice.” La nascita nella tradizione ebraica: Birth in Jewish Tradition, ed. Silvia Guastalla, Livorno: Belforte Salomone, 2005, pp. 98-123.

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