A besamim is a box for fragrant spices used for the Havdalah ritual at the end of the Sabbath. This ritual separates the holy Sabbath from the other, profane days of the week. The pleasant-smelling spices symbolize the passing Sabbath, whose pleasing aroma we breathe in one last time before the next Sabbath comes. The besamim from the Jewish Community Museum takes the traditional Ashkenazi form of a tower. The oldest examples of such shapes date back to the 16th century; their appearance was most probably inspired by Catholic ritual objects such as monstrances and reliquaries. The cylindrical casket of this particular besamim is decorated with perforated openings in the form of stylized heraldic lilies arranged in two mirror-oriented bands. This is an unusual decorative element. The goldsmith who created this item obviously decided to use the lily motif for its decorativeness, and because the intense scent of this flower helped him convey the function of the besamim. The silver besamim was made by the goldsmith and clockmaker Gustav Milrad (1869-1935?) in Kutná Hora. He produced small Judaica objects, with a silver purity of 800/1000. A Kiddush cup from his workshop is owned by the Jewish Community of Galanta and a four-rim besamim is located in the collection of the Museum of Jewish Culture. Several parts of the besamim are damaged. It lacks the flap and the flag, which originally rose from the smooth conical tower. It is not the policy of the Jewish Community Museum to restore such objects, but to conserve them, because the traces of damage they bear can also have relevance and meaning, and these would be lost in the course of a complete restoration. [JŠ]

Gustav Milrad, Kutná Hora, 1929-1935, silver
Height: 19.5 cm, diameter: 6 cm
ŽM-D 1555 XI-70

LAUERMANN, Marek: Židé v Kutné Hoře. Kutná Hora 2006, p. 22.

KAŠPAROVÁ, Alena – KAMP, Michal: Židé na Havlíčkobrodsku. Havlíčkův Brod 2008, p. 44, 53.