Why Is This Ketubah Here? Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XIX

This page from Milton Goldsmith’s family album is puzzling.

It includes an image of a ketubah, a Jewish wedding contract.

I assumed when I saw this that this was a ketubah for one of the members of Milton Goldsmith’s family. Because I couldn’t translate the Hebrew, I posted the image on the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group, asking for help. Much to my surprise, the group members concluded that this was a ketubah dated 1795 for a couple from Italy and was quite obviously not for one of my relatives. In fact, one TTT group member found another image of the exact same ketubah—with the same handwritten note at the bottom—online.

When I did a Google Images search for the image, I found numerous postings of the same image.

The image is used in many websites as an example of a ketubah. But I could not find any explanation of the source, history, or location of the original version of this ketubah.

So why would Milton have included this image? I have no idea. The only possible clue is the obituary that appears on this page and is the only other item on this page. It’s an obituary for Julius Goldschmidt, whom Milton referred to as a “beloved cousin.”

Who was Julius Goldschmidt? He was the grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt and son of Falk Goldschmidt, whom I’ve written about here and here. That made him Milton Goldsmith’s second cousin:

But Julius was born in Frankfurt, Germany, far from Philadelphia where Milton was born and raised. He also was 21 years younger than Milton, as Julius was born in 1882. As his obituary points out, he left Germany for London in 1935 when he was 53 years old and lived there until he died on November 18, 1964. He was a well-regarded art dealer. How did Milton know him well enough to think of him as a “beloved cousin?” I assume that the two must have met when Milton traveled to Europe or Julius traveled to the US. I will write more about Julius when I return to Meyer Goldschmidt’s family.

The question remains, however, as to why Milton included the ketubah image on this page. Had his cousin Julius discovered or purchased this ketubah? Was there any connection at all, or was this just a random placement of these two items on a page in Milton’s family album? The mystery lingers.

15 thoughts on “Why Is This Ketubah Here? Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XIX

  1. Perhaps Milton steeped in Jewish tradition came across this document and decided to insert it in his family album, where the stories of so many relatives have been documented. I find the wedding contract written in Hebrew quite fitting. It embellishes the family album in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another mystery to unravel. Thinking about this, while we have access to the internet and multi photos of this ketubah, he certainly wouldn’t have. I know the doesn’t help, just a thought on how and why would he have it? Would there be multiples of a ketubah passed around like a souvenir during his time period? Is there a way to research the couple of this document and see if there could be a connection? Fun interesting posting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sharon. I have no reason to believe that an Italian couple married in 1795 had any connection to my German Goldschmidts. And even if I thought that was a possiblility, there is no way to identify this couple since all I have are the patronymics—no surnames. I honestly don’t think there’s a familial connection.

      It is interesting to think about how (and why) Milton ended up with a facsimile of this ketubah. It is clearly not the original, just an image of it. But you’re right—how did this get created back in that time period and why would he have had it? I assume he created this page around the same time as Julius Goldschmidt’s death in 1964. We did have photocopying equipment back then, but that doesn’t answer the why!

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Like

  3. HI Amy,
    Sorry we have been hiking in Tucson and just sat down to catch up on your posts. I would assume that this is an item that received from Julius Goldschmidt. Did you know that a specialty of the Goldschmidt firm in Frankfurt was Judaica? They sold many menorahs, torah items and books so it would not surprise me that it is possible that Milton purchased this from Julius in New York. The question is what happened to it and why is it all over the internet?

    David in Seattle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David. I knew they were art dealers, but not in Judaica specifically. The image in Milton’s album is definitely not an original, just a reproduction, so I don’t think it has any value or that Milton would have purchased it from Julius as art. Perhaps Julius did have the original at some point. I wish I could trace its provenance.

      Hope your trip has been great! I saw the photos on Facebook, and it looked beautiful out there.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Leni and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Their Sons: Escaping from Germany | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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