“I don’t like things to vanish,” says Lisa Van Allsburg as she explains the sentiment behind her year-old Web-based retail store, Forgotten Judaica. Intent on keeping alive the rituals and traditions that she and her siblings enjoyed growing up in a conservative Jewish family in Detroit, Van Allsburg set out to create a gallery-worthy collection of mezuzahs, Shabbat candlesticks, Kiddush cups and Sedar plates. While the collection was borne from personal memories and travel, its scope is much grander—to re-inspire a connection to the past, a link lost when the Nazis plundered synagogues and homes and melted down menorahs for metal. “We are the gatekeepers of the old collection. Our pieces are a narrative,” says Van Allsburg.
Thanks to a talented cadre of local artists—including husband and famed illustrator Chris Van Allsburg—Forgotten Judaica has filled orders from around the globe. And those drawn to the original works of art have their own stories to tell. One Van Allsburg is particularly taken by? The woman in Pennsylvania who is not Jewish but bought the Chanukah cast-bronze chair menorah so that on special occasions she could light it in memory of the husband and two children she lost. “These are beautiful things that put people at peace,” says Van Allsburg.
The collection, which ranges in price from $160 to $1,300, can be viewed and ordered online at forgottenjudaica.com.—Lisa E. Harrison