Antique, Illuminated Megillahs Demonstrate Jewish Passion for Hiddur Mitzvah

Feb 26, 2018 by

A silver Megillah case with original Megillah, Russian, c 1860. Engraved with period design, Jewish star, Hebrew dedication, and “Megillat Esther.” 12.2 inches tall.

A silver Megillah case with original Megillah. Ottoman Empire, c 1880. Hand-chased body with flowing organic-style design. Coral finial and original pull tab. With original elongated winding handle. 12 inches long

Just in time for Purim, the Cedarhurst, Long Island-based auction house, J. Greenstein and Company, is displaying antique Purim Megillahs for sale.

The entire collection is estimated to be worth over $10 thousand, with some of the important Megillahs dating back hundreds of years to Poland. Others were made in Israel shortly before the establishment of the Jewish state.

“Judaism is about beautifying every mitzvah that you perform. Reading from a beautifully illuminated manuscript that rolls out of an exquisitely gilt scroll case has been the traditional mode of beautifying the Purim mitzvah of reading the Megillat Esther,” says Jonathan Greenstein, founder and expert-in-charge at J. Greenstein and Company.

“Go-to-Guy” for Authenticating Antique Judaica

Mr. Greenstein founded the company in 2004 as the only boutique auction house in the United States to deal solely in Judaica. It was the culmination of many years spent honing his skills authenticating antique Jewish ritual items as well as works of art.

“For more than 30 years, since the age of 14, I’ve been the ‘go-to-guy,’” he says.

His expertise has been well recognized by the media. Mr. Greenstein has been featured on Fox Business News, CNN, NBC, and CBS, and in newspapers ranging from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to Crain’s New York Business and dozens of Jewish publications.

He is an art-and-culture columnist for Hamodia, a Jerusalem-based Hebrew-language daily with an United States-based English daily component as well, and a frequent contributor to the New York-based Algemeiner Journal.

Private Collectors and Museums

Every year, his gallery holds a number of Judaica auctions which are eagerly attended by private collectors as well as museum directors and curators looking to build and enrich their collections of Jewish art.

In the past, J. Greenstein and Company has auctioned Sammy Davis Junior’s personal menorah, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s piano, and Professor Alan Dershowitz’s Judaica collection.

Those interested in more information on the current display of Megillot at the gallery can contact Michael Kosowski at 347-525-7934.

“I’m very proud to have such a diverse collection of Megillot that represent Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrachi traditions,” says Mr. Greenstein.


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