An Heirloom from The Pale of Settlement

I’ve written a couple of posts about the tragic history of the Jewish population in the towns the Scheshkos were from.

Today I thought I’d share a light post.

These kiddush cups came with Isidore when he immigrated to the United States.

I don’t think they are silver because they seem to be permanently tarnishing in parts. However, it’s possible that they are silverplate. I wonder if the base could be something called German plate, which is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc, but I have no way of knowing. Best guess is some sort of silverplate as I have some silverplated objects from among my wedding gifts. The plating is probably wearing off

These two cups do not match, and they are not very ornate, although they each have a design engraved near the rim. I suspect that the larger cup has the tree of life replicated over and over, encircling it. The smaller cup has a design that looks like berries. Could they be grapes?

That they are the only objects we have that Isidore brought with him makes them very special.

A kiddush cup is used for the blessing over the wine for both Shabbat and for holidays. They’ve been used for many, many Passovers.

Do you have an heirloom that belonged to a branch of your family that you know very little about (the branch, not the heirloom)?

15 thoughts on “An Heirloom from The Pale of Settlement

  1. Wow, what treasures! I can imagine using them from Kiddush and feeling the ties back to Europe. I have nothing like that—although my cousin Roger has the siddur from our ancestor Gerson and another cousin has a snuff box that belonged to an ancestor. I hope you can find some way to protect the silverplate from further erosion.

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  2. What treasures, Luanne! I think they’re extra special in that so many people were killed and their possessions lost during the Holocaust. I can imagine a long line of ghostly ancestors standing nearby when the cups are filled. Do you know how old the cups are?

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    • I have no idea how old they are or really much of anything about them. I’m not even sure how one would research that! I think we need Antiques Roadshow! Your image is very poignant, Merril. And to think that there were Vasilishki Scheshkos murdered during the Holocaust (we don’t yet know about other branches). Perhaps the cups even came from Vasilishki. It would be nice to find out if their origin. Maybe Ukrainian.

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  3. What special heirlooms. I am so glad they have survived. Treasures like these help you feel so connected – to touch what an ancestor touched, priceless! Especially when it’s an ancestor that you know very little about.

    I was able to hold a ring that belonged to John Costello (my great grandpa who is my brick wall). He was given the ring by his uncle before he left Spain. I was also able to hold a pocket watch owned by one of my James Youngs from Scotland. In each instance, I felt so honored to be able to touch what they had touched so many times. Neither item will ever belong to me, but I cherish the memory of that touch.

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