Photo Credit: Tsadik Kaplan

Dear Tsadik,

I saw your latest article in The Jewish Press and wanted to share some photos of an item of mine. Please let me know your thoughts.


Avrahom Berns
Brooklyn, NY


Dear Avrahom,

I am familiar with your beautiful silver mezuzah case, which features figures of klezmer musicians in the center, set on an imitation of doors being held in place with a latch, and when the doors are opened, a wedding scene is depicted. It is a modern-made piece, dating to sometime after 1980. To understand this type of decoration, with its piercing and casting work that displays images reminiscent of the shtetl, you have to understand the person who inspired the maker of this mezuzah: Ilya Schor. Who was he?

Ilya Schor was born in Zlocsow (Galicia), in the Austrian Empire (now Ukraine) in 1904. He came from a chassidic family. His father, Naftali, was a folk artist, painting colorfully illustrated store signs for local merchants. Ilya first trained as an apprentice in metalcrafts and engraving before enrolling at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1930 where he studied painting. In 1937, he was awarded a grant by the Polish government to study in Paris. He exhibited successfully at the Salon d’Automne in 1938. Ilya and his artist wife, Resia, immigrated to the United States in December 1941, after fleeing Paris in May 1940. In New York City, he began making artwork that would keep fresh his memories of life of the Jews of the shtetls of Eastern Europe. He worked on major commissions for synagogues in the United States.

Ilya Schor was a creator of unique jewelry and mostly small Judaica objects in silver and gold. He died in New York City in 1961 at age 57. A retrospective of his work was held at the Jewish Museum of New York in 1965. Another smaller exhibition of works in varied media, “Life of the Old Jewish Shtetl: Paintings and Silver by Ilya Schor,” was held at the Yeshiva University Museum in 1975. His works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of New York, and the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Circling back to your mezuzah, which as I’ve mentioned previously is inspired by the mezuzah cases done by Ilya Schor, it is nevertheless unlike Schor’s silver Judaica, which are entirely fashioned by hand, as your mezuzah case was cast using machinery. In terms of value, I located an identical example to the mezuzah case you are inquiring about which appeared at auction in 2012, where it sold for $847. Another mezuzah quite similar to yours, apparently made by the same maker (who is unknown to us, as there is no artist signature or hallmark on any of these mezuzahs, including yours), appeared at auction in 2020 and sold for $572. In today’s market, the value of your mezuzah case is closer to the value of the identical example that sold in 2012, approximately $700-$900.

If your mezuzah case were an authentic Ilya Schor handmade and signed example, the value would be $20,000-$30,000.




Hi Tsadik,

I have a menorah and I’m wondering what you can tell me about it. How much could it be worth? I was told it was created during World War Two. Thank you.

Geula Wertman
West Hempstead, NY


Dear Geula,

What an interesting chanukiah you have! It is apparent that it was completely fashioned by hand using a variety of tools, and there is a great deal of soldering work I can see from putting pieces together. Those candle-holders are bullet shells, and the Ten Commandments in the center flanked by two solid Stars of David are fashioned in a perfect styling of the era, namely made during or shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War. The reverse reveals a brief dedication in Cyrillic that is dated 1943 and is extremely crude; it appears it was done by some kind of knife. It’s certainly one of a kind, but because there is no provable provenance, such as a 1940s era photograph of someone holding this menorah, its marketability in achieving a decent valuation plummeted because the “story” to your piece is worth many times more than the brass chanukiah itself.

At a specialized Judaica sale, this item would be assigned an estimate of $300-$500, or perhaps a more aggressive $400-$600. How much it would actually sell for is questionable; perhaps if two parties are particularly intrigued by the Cyrillic dedication on the reverse, it might do well, surpassing the estimate given. Or it might not sell at all, as in my humble opinion, the Judaica-buying audience for your piece is limited.

This may sound bizarre, but I feel your chanukiah would garner more attention and a higher financial result if it were offered in a specialized auction of militaria, which would include weapons, uniforms, and handmade items (“trench art”), from the First and Second World Wars. There is a massive audience of the general American public that collects this type of material, and collectors may be very intrigued by your chanukiah and it could turn out to be a “must have” for the seasoned militaria collector, or even a war museum.




Dear Tsadik,

I found this menorah among my grandfather’s possessions. It is a bit beat up, missing one leg and no shamash. It is from Bezalel. Can you also shed some light on the pasuk that is written under the image? Thanks.

Yitz W.
Far Rockaway, NY


Dear Yitz,

Indeed, you have an original, 1920s-era, silver-plated sheet brass chanukiah made by the Bezalel School in Jerusalem. It is quite an impressive example, as the very regal lions with large manes are flanking a depiction of the Temple Menorah, with the Hebrew verse “These Lights of Ours are Holy.” The Hebrew verse you are asking about that is underneath the first verse is from Maccabees 4:47, “…And they purified the Courtyard and everything in it.”

As I’ve noted in previous columns in The Jewish Press, the field of antique Judaica is plagued by fakes and forgeries of every type imaginable. About 25 years ago, the original old dies for a number of sheet-brass Chanukah menorahs from the Bezalel School in Jerusalem were found, and since then, vast quantities of re-issues of various types of this Bezalel product have been made, and too often, offered as authentic originals by unscrupulous or naive parties. Fake sheet-brass Bezalel menorahs are so prevalent that they have affected the values of authentic examples, as collectors are now wary of purchasing a Bezalel chanukiah and later discovering it is a new re-issue, which for all intents and purposes is a forgery.

Twenty-five years ago, an authentic, antique example of the model of your Bezalel chanukiah would have sold at auction in the range of $800-$1,000. Today, this would sell for between $300-$500, and because you are missing a foot and the shamash, likely closer to the lower end of that estimate.


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Tsadik Kaplan is a collector, certified appraiser, and speaker/lecturer on the topic of Judaica. He is the author of the book “Jewish Antiques: From Menorahs to Seltzer Bottles” (Schiffer Publishing). For questions or comments – or to send pictures of your Judaica for future columns – email [email protected].