Coin Silver Kiddush Cup Presented to Jacques Judah Lyons, Probably NY, Circa 1850
Engraved " Presented to the Rev. J. J. Lyons by his pupil Moses M. Ritterband"
Jacques Judah Lyons, hazan, rabbi and community leader, was born in Surinam, Dutch Guiana on August 25, 1813 to Judah Elazar and Mary Asser Lyons. Though the Dutch colonies offered limited educational opportunities, Jacques made the most of his circumstances, and learned Dutch, Hebrew, English, German, French and Spanish.
He became a hazan at Congregation Nevie Shalom, and traveled to his parents' homeland, Philadelphia, in 1836. The Congregation Beth Shalome of Richmond, VA recognized Lyons' talent and hired him within a few months of his arrival. By 1839 he was elected minister of the most influential synagogue in America: Congregation Shearith Israel of New York City. Three years later, Lyons married Grace Nathan, the daughter of Seixas Nathan and Sarah Mendes Seixas.
His relentless passion for his faith manifested in a thirty-eight year ministry, advocating Orthodox Judaism; co-authoring A Jewish Calendar for Fifty Years; leading Shearith Israel's school, Polonies Talmud Torah; presiding over its benevolent society, Hebra Hased va-Emit; and serving as one of the founders of the Jews Hospital, now known as The Mount Sinai Hospital.
Though Jacques Judah Lyons died on August 15, 1877, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, recognized his humanitarian efforts during her visit to New York City in 2010. President McAleese visited Congregation Shearith Israel and recounted Lyons' heroic act of raising aid for the starving Irish people following the failed potato crop of 1846. Despite the needs of his own local Jewish community, he insisted that the money raised be sent to those suffering a continent away. Lyons said, "It is true that there is but one common link between us and the sufferers...That link is humanity." It is estimated that the $1,000 sent would be equivalent to $82,000 today.
Deaccessioned from the High Museum, Atlanta, GA
7 1/8" height, 3 1/2" top diameter. 5.11 troy ounces.