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Grandma’s Depression Glass Dishes Brighten My Seder

2 Apr
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Depression Glass Dishes

Each year as I set my seder table, I cannot help but think about my Grandma Thelma, who died in 1981. Grandma had a collection of amber depression glass in the Patrician Spoke pattern.  It was not a complete set, but there were about 30 pieces: luncheon plates, serving dishes, a few cups and saucers and a creamer and bottom of a sugar bowl.The dishes were in our bungalow in the Catskills. After I married, in 1980, I claimed them.   I knew that they would be perfect for Passover.  Over the years I have purchased many pieces.  I now have a complete service for 18: dinner plates, soup bowls, small bowls, small dishes (bread and butter I think), luncheon plates, five serving pieces; two sets of creamer and sugar bowls; and the original cups and saucers from Grandma.

Depression glass was manufactured in the 1920s and 1930s.  It was often given away for free as part of a food promotion or to bring customers into a store.  I wonder if my Grandma had so much of it because my grandparents owned a bakery in West New York, New Jersey, that also sold some groceries.  This might have made it easy for her to collect the pieces she liked.

In fact, a cousin of my husband’s also has a collection of depression glass from her grandmother (my husband’s aunt).  Aunt Jean and Uncle Dave owned a grocery store in St. Joseph, Missouri. In my mind, I believe this clear glass set also came as giveaways that Aunt Jean was able to select and keep. Now her granddaughter is enjoying her dishes, as I enjoy my grandmother’s set.

Their patterns are very different. But that makes sense.  Over 100 different patterns were made in many colors, mainly clear, green, pale blue, amber and pink.  Although other colors like red and white were also manufactured.  Wikipedia states that most manufacturers were located in the Ohio River Valley. The website lists all of them and which patterns they produced.  My dishes were made by the Federal Glass Company

I have a few other pieces of depression glass.  In my years of searching for my patterns, I sometimes found a piece that just delighted me.  I have a cake plate in Madrid, pink, as well as a creamer.  It’s matching sugar bowl was destroyed years ago in a conflict with one of my cats.  That is the biggest problem with depression glass, it does break.  I do use them for my seder as well.

For my seder I use the dishes in my way.  The creamer and sugar bowls are filled with charoset.  The cereal bowls have become my soup bowls.  The bread and butter plates become small seder plates for each guest.  I use the small dessert bowls for an egg dish that starts my seder.

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My Rueven Glass pitcher, glasses and my parent’s seder plate.

But it is not only Depression glass that I place on my seder table.  I also have several pieces in the style of Rueven glass that were my parents. Some are originals, as he works in New Jersey, where my parents lived.   My art glass wine glasses, matzah plate and  water pitcher brighten my table.

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Miriam glass and Elijah’s glass

From my husband’s parents we have Murano glass kiddish cups that we use for Elijah’s glass and Miriam’s glass.  My in-laws purchased these when they were in Italy over 40 years ago.  I ended up with three in different sizes.

My Lenox seder plate was my parents.  They presented it to me over 30 years ago, as they came to me for Pesach, always arriving in time for the second seder.  They purchased an identical one for my sister, because they spent first seder with her.

Seeing these glass items on my table reminds me of our parents, my grandparents and the many wonderful seder memories from years ago.

Adorning my table with items from my grandparents, parents and in-laws brings me joy.  It promises me that traditions can continue.

Grandma’s Ceramic Strawberries Were Meant To Be Mine

13 Sep


My Grandma had two ceramic strawberry shaped jam jars that she never kept jam in.  They were filled with thumb tacks, safety pins, buttons and other little items that she needed to keep corralled in a safe place. She kept the jam jars on her kitchen window sill along side her plants.

I remember them always being in her home. When she moved out of her West New York, New Jersey,  apartment up to her home in Kauneonga Lake in the Catskills, she took the two strawberries with her.  And they once again graced her window sill. Always there.  A beacon in the kitchen.

I don’t know why I loved them, but I did. They were a shine of color that brightened up the kitchen. Perhaps I loved them because the red strawberries look like two hearts sending a hug of love.

When my grandmother died, my grandfather left the house basically how Grandma had it. The knick knacks stayed where they were placed by her.  So even though Grandpa lived about eight years longer, the Catskill’s house still felt like Grandma.  And the strawberries stayed in their place in the kitchen.

The house in the Catskills went to my parents. Mom and Dad remodeled the kitchen and packed up many of my grandmother’s  tchotchkes and placed the boxes in the garage.

Eventually my Mom had us go through the boxes. She wanted us to take what we wanted before she donated the rest to charity. So my sister, my cousin and I searched the boxes. I focused on finding the two strawberries. I wanted them. I did not know it, but my cousin wanted them as well.

“I remember seeing them at Grandma’s!” My cousin said…whined…pled. She knew when I wanted something I was one minded, so she made her case to have them as well.

I was the older cousin, so I should have them was my first thought.  But there were two. And she really wanted one. So we did the right thing.  We each took one. We shared.  I always say, I gave one up for her because I love her.

My strawberry returned with me to Kansas, where I put it on my kitchen window sill. It looked lonely without its mate. No matter, I knew my cousin deserved one as well.

But I think Grandma was looking out for me. I think she knew that I really wanted to have two. I am sentimental. Having one was great, but two would be better. I should have known fate would intervene.

About a year after I brought the strawberry jam jar home to Kansas, I went out to lunch with a work friend on a summer day. I do not remember the exact day, but Grandma’s birthday was in July.

We parked near a small antique/trinket store.  After lunch, since we still had time, we decided to browse in the shop. We had never been there before and honestly, I never went there again. But it ended up being a magical place!

I still remember the moment I saw it: a small ceramic strawberry jam jar.  It seemed to be exactly like my Grandma’s strawberry. EXACTLY!  I knew I had to buy it.

The owner wrapped it up in brown paper.  I carefully carried it to my friend’s car. I was so excited. She tried to calm me down a bit by telling me it might not be the same.  But in my heart I knew it was a match.

Later that day, when I  put it next to my jam jar, I was not disappointed. It was a perfect match.  To this day I cannot tell which one I purchase and which one was Grandma’s!

Do I believe Grandma had a hand in my finding it?  Is it even possible? I am not sure, but sometimes events happen that have no explanation. I think the jam jar falls into this category.

As for my cousin, the strawberry jam jar she so wanted, she no longer has in her possession.  She told me that she moved so many times since Grandma died about 36 years ago. At some point the strawberry was lost.  I only moved twice across the country, always taking my strawberries with me.

But it really does not matter whether she kept hers, for I have the two strawberry jam jars that were meant to be mine.

The Antique European Hannukiah

5 Jan

When my husband’s mother died in 1984,  we were given the opportunity to chose some of her personal items.  My husband and I were her only children who were dedicated to having a Jewish family, so we took most of the Jewish religious items, including this Hannukiah that belonged to his grandparents.

My mother-in-law told me that  was her father’s and had come with her parents from Europe in the early 1900s.  This was the Hannukiah the family used when she grew up. It was the item she chose to keep after her father died, when she was 16.

I know it is bronze.   I know that once it burned oil, as the dark burn stains still are visible.  But we have never used it.

Years ago, when I went to the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street, in New York City, I purchased a book entitled, Treasures of The Jewish Museum, published in 1986.  While looking through the book, I discovered on page 66, a hanukkiah much like ours.  It said it came from Spain or France and was first used in the end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century.  The book says, “The gabled end of a Gothic catherdral, rose window and all, was the model for the backplates of the first pendant lamps.”

I remember thinking, impossible.  But it is so similar.  The only difference was that on the museum hannukah lamp, the shamash area was elevated, instead of off to the side, as in our design.

And so the hanukkiah stayed on my book shelf as a decoration along with  other, more modern ones,  that joined the collection over the years.  But that was it.   I never did any follow up.  As long as it was part of the family’s lore and history, that was more than enough for me.

Until this past December, when I went to Israel for a visit.  While there, I spent the day at the Israel Museum with my daughter’s mother-in-law.  As a resident of the Jerusalem area,  she has visited the museum many times.  She suggested we take an English tour of the permanent exhibit.  So we did.  We were the only two who signed up for it.  Lucky for us, we had a private 90-minute tour of the museum.

Since it was close to Hanukkah, the guide took us to see the collection of Hannukiot/hanukkah lamps that the museum owns:  covering many centuries and many countries.  There, on the wall, the very first one, was an exact duplicate of my husband’s grandfather’s Hannukiah!  The one that came from Europe and that he had used when studying medicine in France during the late 1800s.  Wow.

I asked our guide about that Hannukiah, as the touch screen was not working.  She said it was the oldest Hanukkah lamp that the Israel Museum owned.  She thought it came from the 17th century.

So to my husband’s Matassarin/Matassaru family in the USA and Israel: the family Hanukkiah survived.  It did not get destroyed in the Shoah.  No Leon brought it to the USA with him and his family, and used it with his children.

It has been an amazing journey for this centuries old work of Jewish religious ritual item. It traveled with my husband’s grandfather from his home in Europe with him to medical school in France.  From there, he took it to England, where he met his wife and they had their first three children.  Onward to Canada and to the United States, where he settled in Kansas!   He served as a colonel in the US military in World War 1, then settled in Leavenworth, Kansas.  After he died, his daughter (child 8 of 10) had it in her home in St. Louis.  And finally it resides with us back in Kansas.

I am honored that this Antique European Hanukkiah lives with us.

Why I Gave Away A Bit of My Mom’s Memory

27 Dec

It is five year’s since my Mom passed away on December 27, 2010. I hold on to her memory, and I have to be honest I have been holding on to items that belonged to her as bits of her, as memories I cannot share but mean so much to me.

Singer Featherweight

My Mom’s Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine, now known as Frances.

Included in these memory items was her 1947 Signer Featherweight sewing machine. I think she got it as a high school graduation gift, as she graduated in 1947. So when I had items of my parent’s shipped from New Jersey to Kansas, I included the sewing machine in its carrying case with my shipment.

My siblings thought I was a little crazy. We had not used that sewing machine for years. Why did I want it? Sentimental attachment was my answer.

I learned to sew on that sewing machine. I have many hours of memories locked up in that case. When I was a freshman and sophomore at North Bergen High School, I took sewing classes. I actually loved learning to sew.

At school I used a modern machine, but at home my Mom took out her Singer sewing machine, and I quickly took using it. It was great. It did not take up much room in the closet, and I could easily set it up on the kitchen table when I wanted to sew. I loved using the foot action to make it go slow or fast.

To be honest, I went pretty quickly. It only could sew in straight lines. But it did really good straight lines! So why not zip through them! I can still here the quiet ‘varoom’ of the motor when I hit the foot pedal and gained speed.

I eventually bought a zipper attachment so that I could put zippers in dresses and pants. I should say my parents bought me a zipper attachment.

With that sewing machine I made dresses for my sister, my mom, my grandma and me. I zipped up curtains for our home in New Jersey, and eventually made curtains for my parent’s bungalow in the Catskills. I will never forget that yellow and white and brown pussy willow fabric. I made 18 panels of various sizes to fit all the windows in the kitchen.

When I was 16 my parents bought me a new, in a cabinet, sewing machine that could make buttonholes and had embroidery patterns. Wow! I loved that. I could do so much more with this new machine: zigzags, borders, shirring.

The old Singer Featherweight was not neglected. It moved up to the Catskills for when I needed to sew up there. I mended shirts and pants, I was the queen of hemming. That sewing machine got used weekly during the summer, especially on a rainy day.

I never had to worry about either sewing machine breaking down, as my Dad started his career as the owner of an embroidery shop. He knew everything about sewing machines and keeping them going. He cleaned and oiled and fixed that old Singer Sewing Machine and my new one. Even after I married, he would come yearly and do maintenance on my newer machine.

The Singer Featherweight stayed in New Jersey. Whenever I came to visit my Mom or Dad would ask if I could hem something or fix something. And sometimes I did. Other times, I would recommend that they go to a tailor. When I came, I came with two children, and I often did not have the time to sew.

Eventually the Singer machine got put into a closet and did not come out. After my parents passed away, I found it. And I needed it. So I brought it to Kansas to sit in my closet. But I felt good knowing it was there.

But something happened. Two years ago, I wrote a blog about my newest sewing machine. My children got me one for my birthday because the machine I got when I was 16 had stopped working. I complained bitterly, but I did not go out and get a new one. So my children took action. I put a picture of my Singer in the blog.

Around the same time, I had some Hanukkah placemats and other items made by the sister of a friend of mine. The sister is a big time quilter. She goes to quilting events and has an entire room set up in her home devoted to making quilted items.

And she needed, wanted and desired a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. It seems that these machines are very popular with quilters because they make great straight lines, and they are easy to carry. Quilters take them on location to craft meetings. And my friend’s sister wanted one with all her heart. When my friend saw my blog and my Singer sewing machine, she told me how much her sister wanted one.

But I could not part with my Mom’s sewing machine. I thought about letting it go. But I just was not ready. However, last week, when I went on school vacation, I started cleaning closets. I saw the sewing machine case just sitting there, covered by other items. It was forlorn. It needed to be use.

I told my friend, “Why don’t you ask you sister if she wants my Singer Featherweight sewing machine. “

Her sister lives about 90 minutes from me, so I thought she would come sometime after the new year, when she had other reasons to come down here. I was wrong. She came that day, within four hours of the phone call. She wanted that machine.

When she came into the house she was so excited she had tears in her eyes. Wow! It made me feel so happy. I knew I was doing the right thing. To be honest it was good that she came that day, if I had time to think about it I might have changed my mind. I sold it to her for $100, much less than the going price that I saw on line. I am donating the money to charity in my Mom’s name for her yahrzeit.

I feel like I am doing two mitzvot, good deeds. My friend’s sister gets the sewing machine she so desires, and a charity gets a needed donation.

For me the best part is that my Mom’s Singer sewing machine is now with someone who really wanted it: someone who will use it; someone who cares about it almost as much as I do. As an added bonus, she names all of her ‘antique’ sewing machines. She is going to call this machine after my Mom. My Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine is now Frances.

I might have given away a memory of my Mom. But I have created another memory with it. Now the sewing machine will have another life, and Mom’s name and memory are attached to that life.

 

 

 

http://www.planetpatchwork.com/fweight.htm

My Doll Survived Because of the Catskills Attic

19 Dec
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In the Catskills Betsy, my doll, with my cousin who has finally made friends with her.

 

I only have one toy left from my childhood. It is not that I purposely saved it because I loved it the best. I actually had other toys that I loved more. But this toy survived because of her journey to the Catskills.

When my sister was born, I was gifted a large standing doll. The doll is over two and half feet tall. I did love her. And I believe I named her Betty or Betsy or perhaps Becky, which was what my Dad called my Mom, even though that was not her name. I kept her in my bedroom and I loved her!

I remember when the doll arrived. She had a pink dress, light brown hair, pink shoes and socks. My Grandma Esther knitted her another beautiful pink dress. I enjoyed playing with her, but there was a problem. She was so big , I really could not cuddle with her. She was best for tea parties, playing school and perhaps discussing an issue. She seemed so real. And that was her biggest problem.

Betsy was so real looking. During the day she was not a problem, but if you woke up in the middle of the night, she would be standing there staring at you with her big eyes open! My sister and I were used to her, but one of my cousins lived in fear of her. She was afraid to sleep when the doll was in the room.

She really was too big for the apartment we lived in during the winters in New Jersey. So Betsy the doll moved up to our Catskill’s bungalow in Kauneonga Lake to be used only in the summer time. In the Catskills we had much more room to play. And she loved being up there.

Eventually I outgrew playing with the doll. But my sister grew to love her. She says, “I loved to play with her and thought of her as mine, since you had outgrown her.”

In time, Betsy moved from our bungalow to my maternal grandparent’s house, until one summer when she was gone. That is what happened with toys. They just disappeared when you outgrew them. I assumed she was given away.

To be honest I don’t think I even looked for her. There is so much to do in the summer time. And Betsy was no longer an important part of my life. She lived in my memories.

But my sister still had a relationship with Betsy. The doll was moved to the attic bedrooms of my grandparent’s Catskills winter home. My sister would play with her and see her when she went to visit in the winters. I was four years older, so while I was away at college, my sister was still spending time in the Catskills in the fall and winter. “Remember,” she told me, ”we did not go into the attic that much in the summer. ” Of course not…it was HOT up therein the summer, but wonderful in the winter.

After my sister went away to college, the doll was put into a closet and eventually forgotten. At some point my grandparents moved her from a closet to one of the hidden nooks.

But Betsy was not totally forgotten. We often talked about my big doll and how scary she was at night, or when you weren’t expecting to see her. We would remember the people who came in and were frightened the first time they saw her thinking she was a real toddler.

Years later, when I was in my early 30s, after both my grandparents had passed away,  my parents inherited the house in the Catskills. They started the process of cleaning it out. We all helped. I was assigned the two bedrooms in the attic, cleaning out the nooks that were hidden in the crawlspace walls of the bedrooms.

Usually the doors into these spaces were covered by the beds. But we moved the beds away and went in to clean them out.   I was surprised to find one perfectly clean except there, lying on the floor, was Betsy! She was a little ragged. Her clothes were gone. Her hair was a little messy. But she had survived, alone in that hidden space for years!

I was excited. I now had a toddler daughter, and I thought she would love Betsy.

I brought the doll downstairs. My mom, sister and I washed and cleaned her up.   She needed clothing!   My daughter wanted to give her some of her clothes, but we decided to buy her something just for her.

The women (Mom, my sister, my daughter and I) went to the Apollo Mall in Monticello and we purchased a 2 Toddler dress. I also found her a beautiful pink straw hat. She looked refreshed and wonderful.  Eventually the granddaughters gave her some lovely bracelets as well!

It took us a while to decide where she would stay. No one wanted her in a bedroom. TOO scary. My parents decided to put her in the stone room, where new generation of girls began to play with her…the granddaughters. But she would not disturb anyone’s sleep.

To this day, 25 years later, Betsy still stands in the stone room by the back door, which is the door that welcomes our guests. She has a purse; she has the same dress; she does not always wear her hat. She guards the door! Some people are startled when they first walk in. But she does not look so real anymore.

However, my cousin, who was afraid of her as a child, still had a little fright when she entered the stone room and saw her for the first time as an adult. She had to share her scary Betsy stories. I think after the sharing, she was able to become friends with Betsy.

My parents have both passed away. My siblings and I own the Catskills house. Betsy stands guard. She is a wonderful reminder of my childhood.
It seems Betsy is a Patty Play Pal doll. Thanks to Maxene for the information.

Small Maple Table Reminds Me of When My Sister Was Born

28 Aug
The table in my basement family room in fall 2013.

The table in my basement family room in fall 2013.

When my siblings and I divided up the furniture and personal items we wanted to each keep from our parents and grandparents, I chose a small maple table from the kitchen in our house in the Catskills. It is not in great shape. But it expands to sit 6 people if you need extra seating. The legs are a little wobbly. The top is a little scratched. But for some reason, I love this table. So it became mine.

It arrived safely last fall. I immediately cleaned it and put furniture cream on it, as it had been really uncared for in the few years since our parents had passed away. We had not spent a lot of time in the Catskills after they passed, and all the furniture up there had been unattended. But now that is changing.

I knew this table once belonged to my grandparents, then it became my parents, all that time it had stayed in the Catskills. But now it is mine and away from the Catskills at my home in Kansas. I had no idea how long it was in the family. However, this table called out to me. It was something comfortable. It seemed to always be around.

A few weeks after the furniture arrived, I was looking at photos that my brother also had shipped out to me. And I found a special photo. Wow! There is part of the table next to my brother and me. We are about 4 and 3 standing in our grandparent’s bungalow before a birthday party in 1958.

With the maple table in the Catskills, summer of 1958.

With the maple table in the Catskills, summer of 1958.

My brother and I are very dressed up for the Catskills. I know it is a party because I have found other photos with my cousins and grandfather. I think it was my oldest cousin’s fifth or sixth birthday. And it could have been a double party because I have two cousins whose birthdays are just a few weeks apart, and they are the same age.

My Mom was very pregnant that summer. (I actually have a photo of her as well!) Soon after this picture was taken, my cousin’s birthday was in July, my parents left for the City. They needed to be near the doctors and hospital. So we, my brother and I stayed with my grandparents.

Finding that photo of my brother and I was wonderful! I have always loved this table, but this photo makes me even more aware of its family history.

I have become a bit obsessive about my parents and grandparents furniture. My sister might say, crazed. My brother would call me loony. And I accept these type comments. How can I not? I am. Part of me wants everything to go back the way it was when our parents and grandparents were alive. I realize I cannot do that. But in a little way, I try.

An example?   I have my grandmother/mother’s baby grand piano.   I have had it for 29 years. I love it. I played the piano as a child and adult. My daughter took piano lesson on this piano. Friends have enjoyed its lovely tone.

My Mom played as well. She studied at Julliard all through high school, but my grandfather would not let her go there for college. She went to what became “Douglass” instead to be a teacher. As a teacher she would always have a job, but not as a musician.

After my parents passed away I wanted two items that my grandparents kept on the piano. We have photos of that as well. And my siblings did not argue, they let me have them. The metronome made sense. It should be by the piano. But my grandmother always kept a vase from Japan on the piano. I believe my Dad brought it back when he returned from his service in the Korean War. Now I have both items on the piano as well.

For some reason, when I see these two items on my piano, mixed in with my items, I have a sense that all is right in the world.   I remember these two items from my childhood and it brings a sense of security. Finding the old photos reinforces memories I had, and brings back memories I had forgotten.

The photo of my brother and I with the little maple table comes from a time of my earliest memories. All my first memories come from that summer, the summer before my sister was born.   I remember my Mom pregnant and leaving to stay in the city till the baby was born. I remember staying with my grandparents in the Catskills and all my cousins. I remember my Dad coming to get us after my sister was born in early September, and my mom was back home.

I remember seeing my sister for the very first time. I remember thinking that she was really small and was not going to be able to play with us.

From that moment forward I have so many memories. So to see my brother and I with the table from that summer is an amazing find. The table brings back so many happy memories. I hope it provides my children with happy memories as well.

Watching Antiques Roadshow Inspired Me to Donate My Great-Grandmother’s Matzah Cover

12 Jun

 

Matzah cover made by my Great Grandmother Chava.

Matzah cover made by my Great Grandmother Chava.

Watching the Antiques Roadshow, a PBS show, is one of my favorite television experiences.   I started watching it with my parents years ago. Whenever they came to visit, this was one of their favorite shows. They got me hooked on it!

I love learning about different items of furniture, jewelry and knick knacks. It is a history lesson along with seeing the beautiful items. But every once in a while, someone brings in a special ephemeral item: photos, letters, a diary. In my opinion, these items should really be in a museum, some place where researchers and students and others can see the items and learn from them.

It drives me crazy. I even say it out loud. Occasionally we find out that the family did donate the item. Like when a family had the musical notations of the “Star Spangled Banner.” They donated it to a museum, and that made me feel good!

I often wondered: would I be able to do that. Would I be able to donate a family treasure to a museum? The answer is yes.

When my siblings and I were cleaning out our parents’ apartment we found two items that my brother, sister and I all wanted, but knew something special had to be done with them. One was a program from the 1930s for a benefit to help the Jews of Europe, the other was a cookbook in English and Yiddish to help immigrants learn to cook American meals.

My sister contacted the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park and asked if they would want these documents. The answer was a resounding yes. So we donated them. This way they will survive, and others who might be doing research or want to know about life for immigrant women would have these items. They will be protected. The curator told us that they had only seen one other program like ours, but it was from a Chicago event. Ours was from a New York City event.

The three of us were glad that we made this decision.

I recently made another decision to donate.

I am donating the matzah cover my great-grandmother Chava made in 1901 to the same museum. I have thought about this for several years, and decided it was the best choice for this family heirloom.

The matzah cover is made of beige linen and a teal silk. I think the silk was originally blue. On the matzah cover my great grandmother embroidered the date she made it in Hebrew letters and the words: “Seder shel Pesach” (Seder of Passover) in Hebrew. It has beautiful cut work embroidery made into a Jewish star (Mogan Dovid) with embroidered roses along the edge.

My mother gave it to me about 25 years ago for several reasons: first because I was named for my great grandmother; second, because I also do embroidery; third because my parents would come and spend the second night of Pesach with me; fourth because my daughter is the oldest grandchild. I think they thought I would pass it on to her.

But I will not.

The matzah cover was made in Galicia before the First World War. I think it was made for my grandfather’s first birthday, as he was born in 1900 on the first of Nissan. It came to the USA in 1932. My Grandmother took my mother, then age 2, and her brother, age 5, to Europe for six months. They stayed with my great grandparents. And my great grandmother gave the matzah cover and some other family items to my grandmother to bring back to the United States with her family.

At some point my grandmother gave the matzah cover to my mother. And then it became mine.

I used it every year for Passover. I would cover the matzah on the table before the meal. But as soon as the food and wine came out, I would switch to a matzah cover that I made. I did not want anything to happen to this cover because I was not sure how I could ever clean it without destroying it.

As the years have passed, it has become more and more fragile. I want it to survive. My great grandmother did not survive. She and most of my grandfather’s family perished in the Shoah. This is the only religious item she made that remains.

I also thought about donating my matzah cover because I had a mild infestation of fabric eating bugs. Ugh. They are gone now. And the matzah cover is safe. But part of me was worried. What if they had reached the cover? Perhaps there is something better I can do with this item?

First I asked my daughter how she felt about my donating this item. She thought it was a great idea.

So I contacted the museum and the woman who helped us with the other donations. She asked for photos.

And then she said yes, they would like the matzah cover for their collection. She told me that the matzah covers they had that were that old were all stained and in disrepair, while mine was in wonderful shape. Which is true.

I told her I wanted to use it for one more Passover before I donated it.

2014 Passover Seder.  Matzah cover in the middle of the table.

2014 Passover Seder. Matzah cover in the middle of the table.

She asked that I take photos of it in use. Which I did and you can see here.

She promised me that anyone in my family would always have the right to come and see it privately when it was not on display, although we would never be able to touch it again. (Probably a good thing as fabric decays.)

In August I will take my matzah cover from Kansas back to New Jersey, and then to its new home at the museum. I hope by sharing it with so many people, it will have continued life, and perhaps help people understand how extraordinary Jewish life was in Europe before the Shoah.

I donated the matzah cover on August 12, 2014.