Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Ofrit Rozenberg Ben-Menachem
Medallion for a firstborn son not redeemed at the proper time
Ioannina, Greece
1859
Silver, engraved
Diam: 5.5 cm
Purchased through the gift of an anonymous donor
Accession number: B84.0913(003) ; 103/810
 
 
If a father does not redeem his [firstborn] son, the son must redeem himself upon reaching maturity . . . they write on a silver plaque that he was not redeemed and hang it around his neck so he will know he must redeem himself . . . (Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah 305)

This plaque offers unique material evidence of how the custom described in Jewish law codes was practiced. Its Hebrew inscription states that the firstborn for which the plaque was made, Elijah, son of Isaac, was not redeemed and must therefore redeem himself when he comes of age. A word was later etched into the left side of the medallion to indicate that the redemption eventually took place.


Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir