Silver Judaica is a term for pieces of art and jewelry that are used in certain Jewish rituals. Many stores, both brick-and-mortar and online, sell a variety of these items that people can purchase to celebrate their faith or simply as decorative accents for their homes. The selection of silver items is usually quite large and includes everything from candle holders and jewelry to Kiddush cups, mezuzahs, and other utensils that are used in Jewish ceremonies.
While Jewish silversmiths have made ritual objects for millennia, few survive from before the 17th century. During that time, Jews were excluded from guild membership in Europe and could not make their own silver. Thus, most of the silver used for Jewish ritual purposes before that time was made by non-Jewish makers and on commission.
Today, many Jewish silversmiths create objects that are both functional and beautiful. Robyn Nichols, a silversmith in Kansas City, makes a variety of ceremonial items such as alms boxes and Sabbath candlesticks, and she consults with rabbis to ensure that her designs follow Jewish law. She often incorporates Hebrew lettering into her work, and draws inspiration from the Torah, the Jewish Bible, and traditional Jewish symbolism.
Another silversmith, Harold Rabinowitz, has been making pure silver Judaica for 37 years in Malvern, New York. He trained with silversmith Ludwig Wolpert and combines the techniques of traditional Jewish jewelry and vessels with a contemporary style. He believes that his works express a sense of “hiddur mitzvah”—the ancient principle that beauty is part of the observance of ritual ceremony.