Manchester Museum plates up families' heritage

January 6, 2014

A rare silver plate that tells a story of Manchester families has been donated to the city’s Jewish Museum.
In 1846 the scholar Moshe Israel Hazan was presented with the plate by the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Hayim Avraham Gaguin. The plate was given to Mr Hazan to mark his appointment as guardian of Pope Pius IX’s library of Hebrew books and manuscripts.

The plate travelled with descendants of the Hazan family when they left Rome to settle in Egypt and then Morocco. A Manchester woman who had married into the Hazan family took the plate to Manchester after her husband died.

It was a remarkable coincidence when, in 1946, Rabbi Maurice Gaguine (great-grandson of Chief Rabbi Gaguin) attended the circumcision ceremony of the great-grandson of Moshe Israel Hazan. The silver plate was being used to hold the wine cup during the ceremony.

The baby’s grandmother asked Rabbi Gaguine to translate the Hebrew writing on the plate. On doing so, Rabbi Gaguine realised the plate’s provenance and asked if he could keep it. His request was refused.

However, on Rabbi Gaguine’s 70th birthday Evelyn and Victor Hazan presented him with the plate. The silver plate has now been donated to the museum by Rabbi Gaguine’s daughter Denise Myers.

Museum curator Alexandra Grime said: “This item is such a lovely addition to our collection. It tells a story which unites two Manchester families with their shared heritage.”

Last updated: 4:45pm, January 6 2014