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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

My Men and Their Ancient Jewelry

In my opinion, women should wear the jewelry in the family, and men should pay for it.  At least, that’s how things should work.  I don’t like the idea of multiple chains, or rings, or anything too flashy on a man.  However, my husband and oldest son like having a discrete and classic piece or two that links them to the Land of Israel.

And somehow, I end up helping them acquire it, usually as a special gift or surprise, and usually at a shop called “Ophir”.  They understand ancient coins, and jewelry mounts and settings, hand shapes and sizes, and most recently, teen budgets.

When I realized that my son would not be dissuaded from his intention to purchase something of meaning for himself, I felt led to take him to the experts.  Not that this would be in his price range, but I sensed he required real guidance, after he had exhausted piles of junk in the Old City, items that would certainly be turning green before he handed over his greenbacks.  The Lor family was the best answer.

“You know that I’ve bought Papa many tie tacks of ancient coins?” I started.  “Would you like to visit that shop and see what they have in terms of rings?”

Petya grew quite excited and the next day, we were off to Jaffa Road in Jerusalem’s New City.  “Ophir” has been located here for over 50 years, along with a smaller shop they had for awhile on Ben Yehuda Street.  Shula warmly greeted my son, and even though it appeared she was headed out for lunch, she made time to teach him a thing or two about rings.

“First of all,” she started, “you have big fingers, a man’s hand.  No delicate rings for you,” she dismissed several of his selections.

“See the curve of the ring?” she pointed out. “This is what you need.  A straight band makes your fingers look fat, but when the band curves in toward the finger, it suits your hand better.”

He marveled at the education he was receiving.  With her patience, and his enthusiastic trying on of many rings, he at last settled for an ancient coin replica in sterling silver, a modest variation of his father’s tie tacks.  Best of all, the coin dated from the Jewish Revolt, an event commemorated at Hanukkah.  Israel was a free nation again and coining their own money!

Imagine my son’s delight when now, in the upcoming January-February 2012 issue of “Biblical Archaeology Review” magazine, a similar coin is studied.  He excitedly shows the article to me.

“Look, Mama!  It’s almost identical to my coin!”

The article explains that in the time periods following that of our coin, there was the Jewish Revolt of 70 AD/CE against the Romans, and the Bar-Kokhba Revolt of 132-135 CE.  Each coin’s value has to do with how long this Jewish freedom lasted and how long the coins were being pressed.

“You’re right, very similar….  Now look at yours:  we have the two Hebrew letters, shin and dalet on either side.  Shin stands for ‘shana’ or year.  Dalet stands for the number four, since it’s the fourth letter in the alphabet:  aleph, bet, gimmel, dalet.  So that means that the coin was pressed in the fourth year of the Jewish Rebellion against the Greeks,” I explain.

“Around the same time as the first Hanukkah?” he asks with eyes wide.

“Exactly.  The Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the Greeks led by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC.  The Jewish Revolt against them started in 167, so we start counting years (remember, we’re counting down, not up) from then.  The first year of the Revolt is 167, the second is 166, the third is 165, and the fourth is 164–the year of your coin. Essentially, your coin dates from one year after the first Hanukkah and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC.”

Small symbols such as these tell my men that historical events did not simply happen long ago, but each of us has the capacity to make history every day, taking a stand for things that are important and meaningful.  As the Hebrew letters on the dreidl spin this time of year and declare with the abbreviation nun, gimmel, heh, shin:  “Ness gadol haya sham” (A great miracle happened there), it’s not just “there”, but “here”, wherever people choose to believe and take action.

Hag Sameach!  Happy holiday.




Look, they’re online, too:  http://www.ophir-jewelry.com/en-us/.  (And no, we’re not related, nor in business together.)



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