Wanted: Jewish home for antiques

Albert Edelstein possesses four Jewish-themed electric light fixtures that he believes are antiques. And he wants to help them find a new home.

The 81-year-old retired Toronto businessman and his wife, Ruth, came across one of the artifacts about 20 years ago when they were shopping at an antique shop in the city. Then, about three years ago, Edelstein discovered the others through his own searches of local Jewish institutions.

The light fixtures look like they are made of bronze or brass, with intricate metal scrollwork and three golden Magen Davids across the front of each. The pieces all have an old-world look to them and are well preserved.

Edelstein has conducted numerous searches over the years in an effort to determine their origin, but to little avail.

“My [searches] initially led me to the old Ostrovitzker shul on Cecil Street,” he said, as he brought out the fixtures for display at his home. The Ostrovitzker congregation existed in the 1920s, eventually moving north to become the Shaarei Tefillah Congregation. But synagogue representatives could not determine where or when his objects were made, either, he said.

Though he’s never had them appraised, Edelstein believes the pieces may be quite old and perhaps valuable, but all he’s concerned about is that they find a new home, preferably in a synagogue.

He wouldn’t venture a guess as to the fixtures’ value. “I’d like to hear from someone if they can confirm [their] origins,” he said. “Ideally, I’d like to donate them to a synagogue so they could be on display as a reminder of old-world symbols.”

To help this along, Edelstein is investing some time and effort in seeing the pieces rewired to conform to modern electrical standards, and is having them restored back up to a nice sheen.

To date, all his efforts to contribute the heirlooms to local synagogues have been rebuffed. “Everyone’s response so far has been similar. ‘They’re lovely, but we don’t have a place for them right now,'” Edelstein said.

Still, he hopes talk of his “finds” will spark an interest in synagogues and Jewish organizations, so that these precious pieces of Judaica can once again find their rightful place in full public view for the community

For more information, contact [email protected].