Ted Goldsmith is a silversmith in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

What I do

I’m a silversmith, but I don’t make things from scratch — I repair, polish, solder, and clean silver, and I refurbish antiques. Sometimes I’m asked to restore silver klei kodesh, or to do surgery on the arm of a leichter that broke off from the center, or to remove teeth marks from those cute yeled tov and yaldah tovah Kiddush cups. When we lived in the States, my younger son named me Goldsmith the Silversmith. It’s so catchy, I’ve been using it ever since!

How I got started

After serving in the United States Army in Korea, I went to dental mechanic school in the US — you learn to make false teeth based on the dentist’s molds, bridges, and so on. But when I graduated, I found it was difficult to break into the field. I worked as a jeweler out of our home, repairing jewelry and making silver and gold Hebrew nameplate necklaces, and eventually I started doing this. The machines dental mechanics used back then were similar to silversmith machines, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch. That was in 1968; we lived in Florida at the time. We were there almost 40 years until we made aliyah in 2006, and I continued working as a tzoref here.

What my day looks like

Every day is different. One day it’s a menorah for Hebrew University that needs professional polishing, another day it’s removing dents from Kiddush cups — we’re hard on our Kiddush cups— and the next day I’m straightening the bottom of a leichter. I have to be careful with dented cups. The silver can be stretched only a certain amount to remove the dent, and if it’s not handled carefully, that dent can become a hole. I also repair copper and brass when needed. All of my work is done in one day — you bring your silver into my shop in the morning and come pick it up in the evening. That gives me the opportunity to handle each piece individually and efficiently.

The best part of my work

My greatest pleasure is knowing that I’m adding to the hiddur mitzvah of Shabbos and Yom Tov, not only in people’s homes, but in synagogues as well. But there are so many great parts of my work — I love seeing the results, especially when I’ve been given old silver that’s been neglected for many years. I take special pleasure in repairing silver that was saved from being destroyed in the Shoah and is now being used by families who know the history and can pass it on to their children. Sometimes people don’t realize that what they have is sterling until the tarnish is removed — a friend of my wife’s once gave me a salt shaker she bought very cheaply, and when I cleaned it, I found the 925 stamp — that was a happy surprise. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 686)