The box is called a mezuzah and contains the Shma (“Hear oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One etc”), the central declaration of Faith in Judaism, formulated in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. For more detail and photos go here.
I teach Religious and Jewish Studies at the University of South Carolina and currently live in New York City. In my professional life, I wrote a book on the medieval historian and philosopher Abraham ibn Daud's Dorot Olam (http://tinyurl.com/kl6fll2).
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