We have very few, if any heirlooms in our family.  The only one we have is my grandfather’s Kiddush cup, and this is its story.

My maternal grandfather, Moritz Neuburger came to Philippsburg in 1889, at the age of 21 to be “Judenlehrer”, which means teacher of the Jews.  He was more than a teacher; he was leader of the Jewish community and performed all the functions required by the community, like conducting services, performing weddings, funerals, slaughtering animals to provide kosher meat and many other necessary duties.  Of course, he also taught Hebrew and religious school.  When I was little, most people I knew had been taught by my grandfather.[1]

In 1929, for my grandfather’s 40th year in Philippsburg, a celebration was organized. My sister Margot is the only person still alive who was there, and she was barely 7 years old and can’t remember much.  She thinks that it was held in a small pub, called “Schnockebuckel”, which means mosquito hill in the local dialect.  There were plenty of mosquitoes in Philippsburg, but there were no hills. Philippsburg is completely flat.  My grandfather used to go to that pub to drink beer. My sister Margot was supposed to recite a little poem as part of the celebration, and she drove our mother batty because she refused to study it. She has always been quite stubborn.  Everybody told her what she had to say and when the day came, she recited it perfectly.  As a kid, that was the only thing I heard about that celebration.

Per Margot: The priests and officials of the town were there and I was to study a poem and drove my mother out of her mind because I didn’t study. But on the day of the festivities I recited the poem. I think I wore a pink dress and maybe was 7 years old.

In the late thirties, more and more Jews left for the United States.  The Maiers must have been ready to leave in 1938, and when they were packing their lift they had room left so my mother gave them a few items to take with them.  We would retrieve these items when we all came to the US, which of course never happened.  Mrs. Maier was a good friend of my mother’s. The items my mother gave along consisted of a rug, six silver coffee spoons and the Kiddush Cup.

The Maiers came to the US, and moved to a chicken farm in Vineland, NJ, and the items my mother had given them came with them. That is how the Kiddush Cup came to the US.  When we came to the US in 1947, we visited the Maiers in Vineland.[2]  We were a little taken aback to see our rug in the Maiers living room, pretty much used up from being used in a chicken farm.  But it wasn’t a real Persian rug and Mrs. Maier gave us another one, which my sister Laure got.  Margot got the silver spoons and I, as a boy received the only thing of value, the silver Kiddush Cup, even if it has mainly sentimental value. The Kiddush Cup has an inscription in German: “Gewidmet vom Isr. Frauenverein, Philippsburg”.  (Dedicated from the Israelite) women’s organization, Philippsburg.)  The Hebrew writing is the beginning of the fourth commandment, “Remember the Shabbat day and keep it holy.”  I do not know when the cup was made, but I assume that it was fairly new in 1929.  It is not an antique.

The saucer does not come from Philippsburg, but we purchased it in Jerusalem at one of the shops near the King David Hotel.  Maman noticed that it matched the Kiddish Cup.  When we came home, we noticed that it was an exact match and that the Hebrew inscription was the same as on the Cup, spelled slightly differently.  I was at first surprised that it was the same inscription until I realized that it was the fourth commandment.

Hugo, as the only male Wildmann descendant, should get the cup, and then Marshall and Wildmann descendants after that, with first priority given to the oldest male.  If there are no males, it can go to women, and if there are no Wildmann descendants, it should go to any other of my descendants.  The only other restriction should be that the cup should only go to somebody who will use it regularly to make a Kiddush.

Manfred Wildmann, January 14, 2013

[1] Children were given time off from regular school for religious instruction.  Catholics, since they were the majority, remained in school while Jewish and Protestant kids went to their religious lessons.

[2] This is when my sister first met Herbert, her future husband.

When my parents moved out of their house in 2019 they gave the kiddush cup to me.  I did not feel right using it while my father was still alive, and I am glad I did not.  After my father passed away on March 24, 2020 we used it the first Friday night after that at our house (it was just the four of us in person because of the pandemic, we had Vivi’s family and Mommy on via Zoom) and was glad I waited to use it.  We also used it for our wedding on Friday night, Marshall’s bris and on Friday night at Marshall and Leah’s b’nai mitzvot.

Hugo Wildmann, December 2020