The Kiddush cup of the Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno

Rare Judaica that survived the Holocaust go on auction in Israel

A silver Kiddush cup belonging to a revered rabbi, the 'world's smallest' Torah scroll and an ancient book that predates the Spanish Inquisition are just a few of the pieces of Jewish history auctioned off in Jerusalem next week

Attila Somfalvi |
Published: 09.06.22, 18:08
In April 1943, at the end of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno was captured along with the few other Jews who remained alive and were sent to the Trawniki concentration camp near the city of Lublin, Poland.
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  • Seven months later, on November 3, 1943, the rabbi and the rest of the Jews at the camp were murdered by the SS.
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    גביע הקידוש של האדמו"ר מפיאסצנה שנספה בשואה
    גביע הקידוש של האדמו"ר מפיאסצנה שנספה בשואה
    The Kiddush cup of the Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno
    (Photo: Courtesy of Taj Art)
    The Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira, who was also known as the Aish Kodesh (Sacred Fire), became a symbol of Jewish spiritual resistance in the face of Nazi atrocities. None of his children survived the Holocaust, but his legacy lives on decades later.
    Quite a bit has been written about this extraordinary man, who never left his followers' side, even when given a chance to flee Nazi-occupied Europe, and gave powerful speeches through which he tried to elucidate the horrors unfolding around them.
    He put his speeches into writing and buried them in the ground inside clay pots, which were later discovered by chance in 1953.
    His unique 19th-century silver Kiddush cup is just one of many rare pieces of Judaica that managed to withstand the ravages of time and the horrors of the Holocaust and managed to make their way to Israeli hands with the help of his brother.
    Next week, these articles will be auctioned off at a premium at TAJ Art, a boutique auction house in Jerusalem.
    This Kiddush cup was made in Poland and shipped to Rabbi Radzyner of Safed. He asked a local Jewish artisan to decorate the cup and engrave his own and his mother's names on it. Rabbi Radzyner then shipped the cup back to Poland to a young man he foreordained as the heir to the Piaseczno dynasty.
    "The cup accompanied the Rebbe for 19 years, and a few days before he was murdered, he sent it to his brother, who was known as the Pioneer Rebbe," TAJ Art co-founder Tomer Rosenfeld told Ynet.
    "His brother, who was a staunch Zionist, made Aliyah and saved the cup. He later chose to send it back to Rabbi Radzyner's son, and so the item was returned after the Holocaust to the family from Safed. It was preserved within the family for many years and would only use the cup on special occasions."
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    ספר תורה זעיר, בן 150 שנה, כנראה הקטן בעולם
    ספר תורה זעיר, בן 150 שנה, כנראה הקטן בעולם
    A tiny 19th-century Torah scroll
    (Photo: Courtesy of Taj Art)
    Another rare article that managed to survive Nazi atrocities is a tiny Torah scroll, which Rosenfeld claims is the smallest in the world, as far as he knows.
    "I'm using the word 'tiny' because this is a true masterpiece," Rosenfeld said. "This Torah scroll was written in 19th-century Europe and any maven in the field would know that this is a piece that not many sofers (Jewish scribes) can pull off. It was written in 19th century Germany, and the parchment is only 6 cm (2.5'') high."
    "Writing a Torah scroll is a task that takes at least a year, and writing in such a script is almost impossible. It meets all Halachic criteria," he added, noting that the opening bid for the article would stand at $70,000, but he believed that it will ultimately be sold for no less than $100,000.
    "These tiny scrolls were intended for wealthy people or for significant figures — rabbis and grand rabbis — who would take it with them on the road."
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    ספר קודש שנכתב על קלף, בכתב עברי ספרדי עתיק. בן למעלה מ-600 שנה
    ספר קודש שנכתב על קלף, בכתב עברי ספרדי עתיק. בן למעלה מ-600 שנה
    A 600 Book of Nevi'im
    (Photo: Courtesy of Taj Art)
    A third item that will go on auction next week did not only survive the horrors of the Holocaust but the Spanish Inquisition and the ravages of time for 600 years as well.
    The ancient book, which features the Book of Nevii'm — the second division of the Jewish Bible — was written on parchment in old Hebrew Sephardic script in either Spain or Portugal around the time of the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula.
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