Candlesticks & Mortar + Pestle

 My great-grandmother, Rachel Morganstern Brzytwa, immigrated to Charleston, SC, in 1904. Her husband, Berish, left Kaluszyn, Poland, three years before her and settled in Charleston, taking on the name Benjamin Solomon. Rachel journeyed with the couple’s three young children to start a new home in America, taking with her her set of brass shabbos candlesticks and mortar and pestle—the material necessities of her role as the akeret (the essence or foundation) of her Jewish home. These objects are crucial to the running of a Jewish home and to the maintenance of Rachel’s identity as an observant Jewish woman.  Rachel used the candlesticks to keep Shabbos and to teach the mitzvah to her nine children. She used the mortar and pestle to feed and care for her family, using them in the preparation of foods and medicinal treatments. The objects Rachel chose to take with her as the material foundations of her home are extremely significant to me. I was named for Rachel, and am inspired by her legacy of strength and care. She was fiercely protective of her children and worked tirelessly for her family. A great-uncle of mine was known for saying, “We wouldn’t be nothin’ without our mama.” As I enter my adult life—and will, I hope, take my own place as the akeret of my future home and family—I look forward to striving to emulate Rachel; to continuing her legacy using and cherishing the objects which formed the foundation of her Jewish home. 

Place(s): Charleston, SC
Year: 1904

– Rachel Jones

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more