Silver Coins for Uri

Raised as a secular Jew, I celebrated holidays by eating traditional foods with little “religion.” My  two sons, raised like I was, each embraced Orthodox Judaism about five years ago.  It has been a journey for all of us- adjusting to different eating habits, observing Shabbos, learning about the religion and customs.  I try to do what I can for them while maintaining who I am and believe.

Today’s errand involved purchasing five silver dollars from my local coin store, Horizon Rare Coin Galleries, Inc.  My son Nathan needed them for the  “pidyon haben”, or “redemption of the firstborn son,”  a ceremony where the father of a firstborn male redeems his son by giving a kohen (a priestly descendent of Aaron) five silver coins, thirty days after the baby’s birth.

(Full explanation: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/652310/jewish/Pidyon-Haben.htm)

Who knew I could find these coins right here in Summit, NJ?  I had called the store last Friday and the proprietor, Ron Rosen, knew exactly what I needed. We agreed to meet today at his tiny storefront that occupies a triangular corner of a building. A former lawyer, he got involved with coins because of two cousins in the business and has had the store for 30 years.   He’s a professional  numismatist. This is very different from mere coin collecting.

Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects.  Ron is an appraiser for banks and estates.  The value of a coin depends on what its made of- how much silver, for example, its date, and how rare it is.  Demand also determines price.

As I waited for him to retrieve the coins from the safe, I looked around. He rents and sells metal detectors. Yes, he said, people still collect coins. Nathan had collected foreign coins as kid,  labeling and putting them in one of  those slotted coin holders. I thought about the state quarters, dollar coins, and silver dollars and how people collect them.  I thought about collections the boys had as children.

They were addicted to this game called “Magic: The Gathering” when they were about 10 and 12. I could never understand the game. They would spend every bit of pocket money on these beautifully decorated but often very expensive cards. They would tell me how much cards were worth. I had to explain they were only worth something if someone wanted to buy them.  The boys now grown; they’re not playing this game and the boxes of cards are in the attic.

After the Magic cards came Warhammer, a  fantasy battle game created in 1983 by Games Workshop.  The boys painted miniature figures and created scenery from recyclables; they read books and plotted maps and strategies. Way beyond my comprehension, but the battles kept them busy for hours.  This is in the attic too.

Tomorrow Uri is one month old. I’m going to his pidyon haben.  As the silver dollars are given to the rabbi,  I’ll wonder what Uri might collect as he gets older.  

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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18 Responses to Silver Coins for Uri

  1. Magic cards and Warhammer of course!

    and probably:
    Rabbi cards (yes they have them!)
    books
    yarmulkes
    possible specimens for bio-fuel

    Like

  2. Barbara W.Klein says:

    Greenbacks, I hope

    Like

  3. Counterfeit coins from China are common. You can buy silver dimes minted prior to 1964. After 1964 the silver content was diluted. Prior to 1964 the silver content was 90 percent.

    Like

  4. blueberriejournal says:

    That’s a real nice story. Thanks.

    Like

  5. jakesprinter says:

    Great collection my friend thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

  6. Well done Granny – for the story and the transition for the sake of your sons.

    Like

  7. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this story. Collections are amazing…our memories are probably the greatest collectibles of them all. 🙂

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  8. Pingback: Sunday Post: Collectibles…Picture Books and People « Positive Parental Participation

  9. that is so sweet, he is a lucky grandson

    Like

  10. Jo Bryant says:

    what a great post…so interesting

    Like

  11. adinparadise says:

    Lovely post for the theme. Uri is such a precious little bundle. 😉

    Like

  12. restlessjo says:

    Great post Lisa. So much information but still with the personal touch. It’s not so long since the Warhammer board was sitting on our garage floor- the venue of choice for painting and games.

    Like

  13. trishworth says:

    This was very interesting. I’ve read about Jewish celebrations for a long time. I sense there is something both ancient and eternal in them, though I don’t think I’ll ever understand more than I can by reading because I don’t know any practising Jews. And I know only one secular Jew. Thanks for telling this story about your grandson.

    Like

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