Tempest About a Teapot
There is an album of photos showing an amazing teapot on Reddit. Popchassid took the post from Reddit and turned it into a blog post. The teapot is pretty incredible. It has a bunch of compartments that hid several ritual items used in orthodox Judaism.
The owner of the teapot says this about the teapot: “I got this from grandfather before he died. First used by hidden Jews during the inquisition, it is shaped like a teapot, but contains many secret Judaica pieces. The Hidden Synagogue.”
The problem is that there is no way this teapot dates back to the Inquisition.
The Inquisition was in 15th century Spain. One of the ritual items in the teapot is a dreidle. Many people are familiar with dreidle. They are a Jewish version of teetotums. Jews have played dreidle on Chanukah for at most a few hundred years. The word dreidle is Yiddish and it refers to the turning of the top.
Traditionally, teetotoums were played around Christmastime. That started in Eastern Europe a few centuries ago. We borrowed the game and made it work for Chanukah. No harm in that. But a tradition subsequently emerged that dreidle was played ever since the rabbis established the holiday of Chanukah. There is no evidence to support this claim.
The Inquisition targeted Sephardic Jews. I am sure many Sephardic Jews used clever ways to disguise their practice of Judaism. It is possible that they may have used teapots to disguise their rituals. However, there is no tradition of dreidle among Sephardic Jews. There is no word for dreidle in a language other than Yiddish. Ergo, it is entirely improbable that a dreidle is in a teapot that dates back to the Inquisition.
My great-uncle has a boat that also has all the rituals hidden inside it. I don’t think that he claims that the boat was a disguise from persecution, I think it was just a cool way of incorporating Judaism into art. In other words, it’s possible that this teapot was not actually made or ever used to hide Jewish practices. It was an art form and it was for the sake of art.
It’s an amazing piece of Jewish history, a true treasure. But let’s be careful to separate fact from fantasy.
Posted On: April 17, 2013