Going once, going twice…it’s auction time at J Greenstein & Company, the only auction house in the United States solely devoted to the sale of antique Judaica. Founded in 2004 by Jonathan Greenstein, the Judaica retail gallery and auction house focusses on antique Jewish ritual objects and art from the 1600s to 1938.
Greenstein’s passion for Judaica started when he was 14 and had a part-time job at an antique shop in Brooklyn. At the time, silver was extremely valuable and every Jewish lady thought to sell her grandfather’s kiddush cup. “My boss didn’t feel right melting down Jewish artifacts, nor did I,” said Greenstein, “so instead he paid my salary in silver and that’s how my collection began.” Thirty-eight years and 77 auctions later, Greenstein has become the “go-to guy” when it comes to authenticating antique Judaica.
The gallery, which is located in Cedarhurst, New York, has sold tens of thousands of antique Judaic objects and other Jewish art since opening. Greenstein, whose knowledge is sought by the most discriminating collectors, holds a number of Judaica auctions each year, which are widely attended by private collectors, museum curators and cultural institutions throughout the world seeking to expand their collections of antique Judaica.
J Greenstein is famous for auctioning many noteworthy items including Marilyn Monroe’s siddur, Sammy Davis Jr.’s personal menorah, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s piano and Professor Alan Dershowitz’s Judaica collection.
Greenstein’s expertise goes beyond assessing the worth of the items he comes upon. He personally researches the history of each object, bringing to life its treasured legacy. When asked if he had any personal favorites, Greenstein confided that each piece tells a story that touches him. “I am honored to play a part in keeping the legacy and traditions of the Jewish people alive with the reverence of these historical pieces,” he said. Most of the objects that survived came to America pre-World War 1 during the mass wave of immigration from Europe.
On January 24, Greenstein will auction an impressive collection of rare Judaica including Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s passport, Boris Shapiro paintings, Alan Dershowitz’s collection of Dreyfus Affair ephemera and the famed Elizabeth Taylor’s personal menorahs. The iconic actress converted to Judaism in March of 1959 to marry Edie Fisher. Other highlights include unique Judaica from an American collector featuring menorahs, spice towers, kiddush cups, mezuzahs and Torah ornaments.
Greenstein is excited about the upcoming auction, which he says will feature hundreds of years of Jewish heritage, from 1700s Eastern Europe to Hollywood in the middle of the 20th century. Each piece in the catalog has gone through his experienced hand and all items are guaranteed for lifetime as to authenticity.
The auction will be held on Sunday, January 24, at noon, with phone, order and internet bidding available. For more information or to request a catalog please visit www.jgreenstein.com or email [email protected].
By Andrea Nissel