Looking for a Chalice? Search for a Kiddush Cup.

I have been pondering whether or not to replace my little stone chalice for some time now, and I’ve decided that if I do, I want to get a sterling silver piece. This is probably being more than a little pound foolish, seeing as I really could go down to any thrift store and find a serviceable glass piece for a couple of dollars. If I really just had to have silver, I could opt for a silverplate piece, which will serve the same function and have much the same look. Still, I’m stuck on sterling. It would probably be the only sterling piece I’ll ever have unless I inherit some silverware from a grandmother, which would immediately make it very special, very dear, and very sacred. It would also be something I would gladly will to my children and let become a heritage piece. So I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a sterling piece I absolutely love.

The problem is that there isn’t exactly much demand for sterling silver table ware these days as even the rich don’t flaunt their conspicuous wealth in such trivial things as plates and dishes any more.  So if one wants a silver goblet, one must really acquaint oneself with antiques in order to find a variety that will allow one to choose the perfect chalice.  Modern sterling goblets are really limited to just a couple smiths making just a handful of designs.

A very ornate and very "Jewish" kiddush goblet

Alternately, you could look for more religiously-oriented table ware.  Of course, Christian altar chalices are enormous, outrageously expensive, and are often stylized with Christian symbols.  Judaism, however, has some promise.  Jewish families privately celebrate the Shabbat, which is a weekly day of celebration and prayer.  As part of this day, a recitation of the Kiddush occurs over a cup of wine at the beginning of the first and second Shabbat meals, or at a reception after the conclusion of morning prayers.  Though any cup can suffice, silver goblets are most often used to honor this mitzvah, so there are a wide variety of kiddush cups and goblets available in all manners of style and ornateness.  These goblets are usually of a good size, since they must hold a revi’it of liquid (between 5.46 and 3.07 fluid ounces). After the person reciting the kiddush drinks from the wine, the rest of it is passed around the table or poured out into small cups for the other participants.

Many kiddush cups are made from sterling, since these are very sacred pieces that quickly become part of family tradition.  These sterling pieces often range in price from $150 to $700 depending on the level of ornateness with many pieces hovering in the $350 range.  Beautiful silverplate pieces can be found for $50 or less, though, and all avoid the rather tacky display of pentacles and the like found on silverplate chalices made for the Pagan set.  Keeping an eye on some online auction sites like eBay, though, can reveal some amazing deals on beautiful sterling pieces, too.

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