In the virtual world that so many of us occupy, it is refreshing to grasp and use physical objects that express meaning, symbolism, and beauty. Perhaps no company in Israel today communicates this concept better than Hazorfim, the international silver Judaica art brand that designs and creates unique, pure silver artwork that holds a place of honor in millions of Jewish homes worldwide.
From Shabbat candlesticks to Kiddush cups, from Hanukkiot (Hanukkah menorahs) to Mezuzah cases, Hazorfim combines traditional techniques with innovation to fashion beautiful, hand-crafted Judaica silver pieces which bring style, beauty, and inspiration to any home. These items – whether displayed in a place of prominence in the home or used regularly for religious rituals – are known for their timeless quality and style.
Recently, the Jerusalem Post sat with master silversmith Yakov Merdinger, the creative force behind Hazorfim, and Ofira Gutman-Berrebi, Deputy CEO, who outlined the company’s vision.
Hazorfim was founded in 1952 by Yosef Merdinger, Wilhelm Kerner, and Michael Steinmetz, goldsmiths and friends who grew up in Romania and survived the Holocaust. After making their way to Israel, they opened a small workshop creating silver pieces and Judaica in Tel Aviv using the knowledge and artistic styles they brought from Europe. Eight-year-old Yakov Merdinger, son of founder Yosef, joined the workshop on vacation days from school and grew up in Hazorfim, learning the complex work of goldsmithing from his father. Over the years, the company developed and became one of the world’s premier developers of silver art masterpieces. Today, Yakov leads the company as its chief designer and artist, from the concept and design stage to production. Each year, 300 new silver works are produced at Hazorfim’s workshops.
Over the years, the silver pieces created by Merdinger and his team of artisans have become known for their distinctive Jewish and Israeli art. They are frequently chosen by those looking for unique Israeli gifts, including Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Office of the President of Israel, and many companies that present official gifts representing the best of Israeli art.
Merdinger says he gets his design inspiration from “everything that is present in nature. I see things in nature,” he says. “It’s hard to explain, but things come together in my head.”
Ofira Gutman-Berrebi joined Hazorfim four years ago and has witnessed the dedication and spirit that Yakov brings to the company. “Hazorfim is a company with a soul, beginning with Yakov and his connection to Judaism, and it extends to its employees. There is a great deal of passion and spirit.” The mission of Hazorfim, she explains, is to bring its masterpieces that strengthen the Jewish spirit and heritage to homes throughout the world. Gutman-Berrebi adds that while Hazorfim items are popular in Israel, they are equally well-known outside Israel. “Jews, especially those who live outside Israel,” she says, “are looking for a connection to Judaism or Israel, after spending years abroad. physical symbols inspire and help you to remember who you are and where you come from.”
Virtually all of the items produced with the Hazorfim brand are made from sterling silver, and their timeless style, functionality, and quality ensure that they are used and passed down from generation to generation. Gutman-Berrebi explains that sterling silver retains its value and can be easily repaired. Artisans at Hazorfim possess great expertise in repairing these items, she adds.
The company is currently touting its Legacy Collection, which incorporates Hazorfim’s leading designs over its more than 70 years of existence, what Gutman-Berrebi calls “the crème de la crème” of Hazorfim. In addition, the Merdinger Collection also offers unusual, limited-edition items signed individually by Yakov Merdinger.
One particularly noteworthy example is “The Mitzvah Clarinet,” an innovative and visionary piece of Judaica that displays spectacular metal techniques crafted by the finest artisans of Florence. Merdinger shaped this piece in the form of a life-size clarinet, whose distinct sound is associated with Jewish music and tradition. The “Mitzvah Clarinet” consists of numerous gold-plated silver elements, set with semi-precious stones and a royal blue enamel coat applied over intricate Guilloché engravings, giving the piece beautiful decorative depth. With this piece, Merdinger recalls times when Jews were forced to abandon their faith or practice it in hiding, creating a tribute to those who persisted amidst the dangers of doing so. When taken apart, this clarinet reveals six different objects to accompany Jewish rituals. Each of these items – the candlesticks, Kiddush cup, Havdalah set, Hanukkiah, and Mayim Acharonim vessel – stands alone for its exquisite craftsmanship, yet together, they celebrate Jewish resilience in the face of hostility and the strength of faith.
Items from the Legacy Collection and the Merdinger Collection are available at the Hazorfim Gallery store, located in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem at 26-28 Agron St. In addition, Hazorfim masterpieces are available in ten locations throughout Israel. The company’s US franchise store is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hazorfim products can also be purchased online via the company’s Hebrew-language site in Israel and its convenient English-language site in the United States. Gutman-Berrebi adds that the company is planning to open an additional Gallery store next year in Miami.
Hazorfim’s masterpieces are all developed in Israel, at the company headquarters in Kfar Daniel near Modi’in, and are produced in Israel, Italy, and Turkey.
Yakov Merdinger says that the art of silversmithing has not changed in 800 years and is one of the most difficult skills to master, often taking decades to master. “Our mission at Hazorfim is to make silver items for the Jewish people, providing timeless pieces for the next generation.”
For more information: Hazorfim
This article was written in cooperation with Hazorfim