Covering the Matzah - American Style
As we all know, the seder table is traditionally set with special items, including intricately decorated seder plates, Elijah's cups, and matzah covers. The Goldsmith Museum matzah cover, found in the Avodah case, is one such object. Made in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, it is made of satin and embroidered with a wreath of flowers in pastel colors. The wreath is closed with a crown set with red glass beads. Loosely-woven white lace borders the entire design.
Decorative needlework, such as we see on this cover, has long been a favorite artistic medium for Jewish women. Other Goldsmith Museum artifacts that have been enhanced with needlework include an American-made hallah cover, and an array of European tallit and tefillen bags. Stitched with great attention to detail, these are examples of the tradition of hiddur mitzvah, or beautifying a mitzvah, that is so much a part of our holiday celebrations.
On European and American needlework, it was common for the stitcher to sign her work by placing her initials on the face of the object. In the case of our matzah cover, the artist's initials, 'E.R.,' appear on the reverse, while the inscription on the front reads 'Hashana haba b'Yerushalayim' - Next Year in Jerusalem, and the date, 5661.
Pesach kosher v'semeach!