Ten mezuzahs made by master artists

I love beautiful, handmade works of art. I also love meeting and working with master artists. I get to combine the two passions in my mezuzah collecting. I get a thrill when Laura Cowan or Rhonda Kap send me an email that says “your mezuzah is ready” or when Eran Ben Yelid texts me and says “look what I made for you”. 

I buy my mezuzahs directly from artists or at online auctions. Here are some of the mezuzahs in my collection. I’d love your feedback on them.

A large bronze mezuzah by Helen Burke: Helen was an influential mentor, spiritual guide and metal arts instructor at Camp Swig in northern California from 1967 to 1987, where she worked with and taught many campers several of whom became metal artists. She is an important figure in the Jewish metal arts world and her works are prized and hard to find as they rarely come on the market. I acquired this mezuzah on eBay for $75. 

Laura Cowan’s work gives me much joy. She works at her  studio in Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv. The Apollo mezuzah shown here in both 5” and 7” went to space on an Apollo mission. Find her at lauracowan.com

Eran Ben Yelid works in a small studio in Jaffa making big and bold mezuzahs that are his unique creations. Eran’s work is distinctive and I enjoy giving him input on designs. You can find his exquisite pieces at ArtEran on Etsy.com or art.eran on Instagram.

Two mezuzahs by the master artist Carmel Shabi: Carmel studied at Bezalel and then apprenticed at Bulgari in London, where he created jewelry for royalty. I purchased my Carmel Shabi mezuzahs on online auction for about $400 each. Only a handful of his mezuzahs come on the market each year. They’re beautiful, rare and highly sought after by collectors.

Arie Ofir is a graduate of Bezalel, a student of David Gumbel, and a former apprentice of Georg Jensen in Denmark. He headed the Silver and Gold department at Bezalel for many years. When I showed Arie me a photograph of this mezuzah case, he pulled out a sketchbook from the 1970s containing drawings and plans for this particular mezuzah. His work is in major museums including the Israel Museum, MOMA in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This is one of four Arie Ofir mezuzahs that I have in my collection. 

Two mezuzahs by Baruch Kraus: I do not have a lot of information about Baruch, except that he made beautiful handmade jewelry and mezuzahs in Jerusalem. Please let me know if you have more information about him. These I believe are brass and silver and have Carnelian accents. His mezuzahs don’t come on the market often, but I managed to buy these two pieces on eBay for under $100 each.

A sterling silver mezuzah by Johannan Peter, artist-craftsman of the Ein Hod artist colony in northern Israel. He was one of the founders of Ein Hod with Dada artist Marcel Janco and artist Jean Arp in 1953. Marked “Peter” for Johannan Peter and “Ein Hod” for the Ein Hod artist colony.  I bought this mezuzah on eBay from a silver dealer in New York City.

Ruth Shapiro makes beautiful bronze mezuzah cases using a lost wax casting technique. She is based in Southern California. You can find her store on Etsy.

A brass and sterling silver mezuzah by Yosi and Dudek Swed. The Sweds are one of the best silversmiths in the world. Today, they make limited edition mezuzah cases on commission. I bought this one from a scrap metal dealer who sold it on eBay. Find them on swedllc.com

The Yemini family have been silversmiths in Jerusalem since 1908 when their great grandfather was one of the original yemenite students at the Bezalel Academy. The work continues today in its fourth generation. This is the Solomon Mezuzah made by Yaakov Yemini. Visit yemini-silversmiths.com

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