Coconut Shell Kiddush Cup


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What can we see?

We can see some people wearing hats sitting at a table. We can also see some Hebrew writing.

Look closely, what can you see?

What do we know?

This Kiddush cup was made in 1803 from rosewood, silver gilt and a coconut shell. This Kiddush cup is carved with three scenes.  The one you can see is a scene of men in early nineteenth century dress drinking from goblets around a Shabbat table, the second has three angels visiting Abraham and the third depicts the binding of Isaac for sacrifice.  All three of these stories are written in the Torah.

This Kiddush cup was made in England in 1803 and was designed to be used on Shabbat.  When Shabbat begins on Friday night kosher wine or grape juice is poured inside the Kiddush cup and a blessing is said, then the Kiddush cup is passed round so everyone can drink a sip.

There is also an inscription on the cup which is written in Hebrew. Hebrew is read from right to left. The inscription says, ‘This is the goblet from which my lord drank in the presence of all his brethren when he was in happy mood. 1803’ This sentence is referring to a story in the Torah about Joseph’s goblet, the story can be found in the Book of Genesis.

What do we wonder?

We might wonder how this cup came into the museum? We might also wonder why it is made from coconut?

What do you wonder?

Object File

Object name: Coconut Shell Kiddush Cup

Date: 1803

Catalogue number: JM 401

Material(s): coconut shell, rosewood, silver gilt

On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

A Kiddush Cup is used on Shabbat, an important Jewish festival that happens once a week. Shabbat is the Jewish Day of Rest. Shabbat begins every Friday at sunset and ends on Saturday at sunset. On Shabbat Jewish people remember the story of Creation and how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. This is why we have a day of rest each week. On the Friday there is a special ceremony to welcome Shabbat. It is traditional to light two candles, say Kiddush over the wine or grape juice, and say a blessing over the challah (special plaited bread). Shabbat is important because it reminds us to take a break from our everyday routine and spend time with family and friends.

The word ‘Kiddush’ meaning ‘to sanctify’ or to ‘make holy’.

Many Kiddush cups are passed down through family generations, as a sort of sacred heir loom – although most ordinary cups will suffice. There are several rules that determine the design of a Kiddush cup; there is a minimum size requirement, they must not weigh less than 4.5 ounces and must mot be made from disposable materials or be partially broken.




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