A silver Judaica is any piece of silverware employed in a Jewish function, ritual, or in affiliation with any practice or component of the Jewish religious customs and traditions. Often, these pieces are cherished beyond their elemental worth for the fact that adherents of the faith believe that using an especially beautiful object to celebrate or perform a mitzvah is a way of glorifying God and honoring his commandments.
The most commonly used items for the performance of a mitzvah are made of sterling silver and include Kiddush cups, Hanukkah lamps, Torah decorations, and dozens of other objects. These pieces are highly covetable and sought after by antique collectors, with Sotheby’s and other primary auction houses dedicating special sales to them.
Many contemporary Jewish silversmiths also create ceremonial items for their clients. Silversmith Kurt Matzdorf focuses on contemporary styles, making objects that are “of today and yet timeless.” His creations range from spice boxes to challah boards. Sue Amendolara, a silversmith and associate professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, makes scent bottles for a living, but creating a Palmetto spice box was her first foray into spiritual work. She enjoyed the challenge of working with an entirely new set of tools and techniques while still expressing her creative style.
The Jewish Museum in Prague has an extraordinary collection of ritual silver artifacts, including more than five hundred objects, from Kiddush cups to Hanukkah lamps to Torah decorations and dozens of other objects that are used in the performance of mitzvot. Jaroslav Kuntos has published this full-color catalog, which includes detailed illustrations and explanations of each item in the collection.