The Temple Judea Museum celebrates the recognition of its artists and projects by this nation's premier library, The Library of Congress.
1. THE PROCLAIM LIBERTY... KIDDUSH CUP
A unique work of contemporary judaica: A limited edition of 350 sterling silver kiddush cups, designed by American silver artist, Meryl Sheetz
A cup created for Kiddush, the blessing over wine, and inspired by the celebration of 350 years of the flourishing of Jewish life in America.
Three hundred and fifty years of history is an impressive but intangible achievement. History is the layering of generations of lives, recorded dimensions of human experience. History lives in memory, and memory is carried from generation to generation in many ways. As this cup serves as a vessel for sacramental wine, so may it also serve as a vessel for the joyous transmission of a unique American Jewish memory.
The Temple Judea Museum Committee
The Proclaim Liberty.... cup was created to commemorate three hundred and fifty years of Jewish life in America. In Jewish observance ritual wine has been blessed by the recitation of the kiddush for centuries throughout the world. This unique cup is dedicated to the celebration of the kiddush as inspired by the freedom of religion which is a hallmark of the American dream.
In 2004 the Temple Judea Museum observed the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Jews in America by means of a year - long series of exhibitions. However, museum leadership, realizing that exhibitions exist as a temporal idiom, and fade away into memory, decided that the museum would mark this important milestone anniversary in another way. The Temple Judea Museum chose to commission a permanent object, a museum quality, limited edition, sterling silver kiddush cup. What better occasion to commemorate in this manner than the celebration of three hundred and fifty years of Jewish life in America?
To find the inspiration for this unique celebratory Kiddush cup, the museum reached back into the history of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, the temple of which the museum is a part, and, at the same time, to the history of the American Jewish experience. The cup’s imagery is inspired by a stained glass window in the temple’s Neumann Chapel. The window illustrates the founding of the United States of America in 1776. Pictorial elements included by artist William Haley, of the Rambusch Studios, New York, contain references to the flag of the new country, the American bald eagle, and the Liberty Bell, with its inspiring inscription from Leviticus 25:10 – Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land to All the Inhabitants Thereof…. As in this one instance of the Liberty Bell, Jewish writings have often informed and inspired the American experience. The exquisite poetry of the biblical phrase plunges this cup’s history back, not to 1654 or 1776, but back to the biblical age. This moving, ancient call is heralded by the image of a traditional shofar, a ram’s horn.
One purpose of this cup is to emphasize the mutuality of Jewish tradition and history and American tradition and history, in this case, as interpreted by artists and craftsmen strung across generations. This country’s first flag, designed by Betsy Ross in 1776, is an American icon, as is the Liberty Bell, commissioned in 1751 to honor the fiftieth anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges – Pennsylvania’s original Constitution. The stained glass window was dedicated in 1959 and in 2004, silver artist, Meryl Sheetz, brought these influences together in her beautiful design, a limited edition of only 350 cups. By integrating experiences of American and Jewish history she has created a new way of looking at the commonality of the American story, one that is unique, and uniquely touching. Thus, this contemporary Judaica, the Proclaim Liberty… Kiddush cup, becomes one small part of the totality of 350 years of Jewish life in America.
The arrival of a French frigate in the harbor of New Amsterdam in September, 1654 marked the beginning of Jewish settlement in North America. Now, 350 years later, the Jewish community in the United States is the largest, most affluent, and most secure Jewish community in the history of the Jewish people. The first Jewish settlers in this land could never have imagined the life their descendants built in this place.
Most Jews were drawn to the colonies and the United States by the "promise of America" with its combined hope of prosperity and liberty. Like all other groups who came to these shores, American Jews had to pick carefully both the material and spiritual content of their luggage and, equally, had to choose what materials they would use to build new lives for themselves and their posterity on this side of the Atlantic.
Aware of the many blessings the American Jewish community has enjoyed for the last 350 years, the Temple Judea Museum of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel has commissioned a special Kiddush cup which brings together Judaism's most heartfelt way of expressing joy and gratitude and the American blessing of freedom. Proclaim Liberty.... is a unique, appropriate and permanent expression of the nexus of our two beloved traditions, Jewish and American, the perfect symbol for American Jewish celebrations for today and tomorrow.
Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, PhD
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
Elkins Park, PA
ARTIST’S BACKGROUND: COMPANY HISTORY and BIOGRAPHY
M.S. Design Studio - Meryl Sheetz, artist
The founder of M. S. Design Studio, Meryl Sheetz, has been involved in the jewelry, silversmithing and design fields for nearly twenty years. She attended The School for American Craftsmen in Rochester, New York earning a B.F.A. in silversmithing and went on to Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and received a M.F.A. in metalsmithing with a minor in printmaking.
The multidisciplinary skills Sheetz developed were well utilized in her varied professional career. She was the Director of The Jewelry Institute, a vocational school supported by The Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America (M.J.S.A.). From that position she went to work as a designer for The Franklin Mint, working on a wide range of products. As Design Director for Zales, Sheetz responsibilities grew to creating and delivering nearly 40% of the merchandise in their 1200 stores.
SPECIFICATIONS: The Proclaim Liberty... Kiddush Cup
The Kiddush cup and the base are two separate pieces.
The cup and the base together are 5 inches high.
The cup itself is 2 ¾ inches in diameter.
Both the cup and the base are sterling silver and weigh approximately 200 grams.
The cup can be engraved.
The cup is a limited edition of 350 pieces sold at $350.
Of these 36 contain a gold washed interior for the cup and are sold at $400.
The Temple Judea Museum TJMuseum@kenesethisrael.org
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (215) 887-8700, ext. 416
8339 Old York Road Fax: (215) 887-1070
Elkins Park, PA 19027