December 6, 2023

Judaica is a term that describes symbolic artwork, jewelry and more that are used in certain Jewish rituals. Lots of stores, both brick-and-mortar and online, create and sell beautiful silver judaica that people purchase for all sorts of reasons. This article explores the meaning, history and importance of this gorgeous, cherished silverware.

Although rules of ritual use govern the design of judaica, artists working with this material can also develop unique and creative styles. Silversmith Kurt Matzdorf of New Paltz, NY, for example, spends half his time creating judaica and the other half making secular objects and jewelry. He enjoys interpreting traditional Judaica in a contemporary style that is “today’s, yet timeless.”

The most common materials for judaica are gold and silver. The latter is usually preferred because it symbolizes ethical innocence and sanctity. Most physical and virtual establishments that carry Judaica sell silver items because of their rich, alluring hue and religious significance. Silver is an ideal material for a variety of Judaica objects, including Hanukkah lamps, Kiddush cups and Torah pointers.

During the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, when most silver Judaica was made in Europe, Jews were excluded from European silversmith guilds. As a result, many pieces of judaica silver were fashioned by non-Jewish artisans and manufacturers on commission. This explains why the Hebrew markings on these antique objects are often dotted with amusing errors. This fascinating survey of superior craftsmanship will appeal to collectors and students of art history and religion alike. silver judaica

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