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  • Pointer
    Benney, Gerald CBE, RDI, born 1930 - died 2008
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Beenham (made)
    London (hallmarked)

  • Date:

    1982 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Benney, Gerald CBE, RDI, born 1930 - died 2008 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Edgar Astaire

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 8C

The pointer or 'yad' (hand) is used in Jewish worship. It helps the reader to follow the sacred text of the Torah (the scroll containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible). When not in use, it is hung over the breastplate that is suspended from the staves of the Torah.

This example comes from a miniature Torah set made by Professor Gerald Benney. Though not Jewish himself, Benney began to make Jewish ceremonial objects in the 1960s, using a contemporary style.

Physical description

Yad or pointer. Silver, Straight shaft, textured surface except for two plain bands one at either end of the shaft. The hand of plain silver with pointed index finger. Short chain attached through a hole at the end of the shaft.

Place of Origin

Beenham (made)
London (hallmarked)


1982 (made)


Benney, Gerald CBE, RDI, born 1930 - died 2008 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Date letter 1982, lion passant, leopards head, and mark, AGB for Gerald Benney.


Width: 1.3 cm of hand, Length: 17 cm without chain, Weight: 87.2 g

Object history note

This yad forms part of a set commissioned by the owner, Mr Edgar Astaire

Historical context note

Contemporary Judaica in Britain
Judaica has always reflected the artistic styles of its time. In the late 19th century ceremonial silver was available through large companies such as Joseph & Horace Savory and cherished pieces were brought into England by the Jews who had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe. In the first half of the 20th century the two world wars and the Holocaust meant that little Jewish silver was produced. It was not until Jewish communities had become more established that synagogues began to commission new work. The designers were often non-Jewish, as was Professor Gerald Benney, the eminent silversmith who began to make ceremonial objects in contemporary styles in the 1960s. More recently a new generation of silversmiths, including Tamar de Vries Winter, have continued to make ritual objects. Their work has enabled traditional Jewish religious customs and practices to be fulfilled in a modern style.

Descriptive line

Yad, silver, London hallmarks for 1982, mark of Gerald Benney.

Labels and date

Torah Set
The distinctive style and simple lines of this miniature Torah set are a departure from the forms of traditional Judaica. The silversmith, Professor Gerald Benney, is not Jewish himself but he began to make Jewish ceremonial objects in the 1960s, using a contemporary style.

The scroll was made in the 19th-century. It contains the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and is wound onto rollers called the Trees of Life, a reference to the biblical verse 'She [the Law] is a Tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is everyone that retaineth her' (Proverbs 3, 18).

The breastplate or Torah shield (Tas) is hung from the staves of a Torah and is engraved with a menorah (the Hebrew word for a seven--branched candelabrum), a traditional emblem of the Jewish people. The rimmonim (pomegranates) fit on top of the staves. The mantle is embroidered in Hebrew 'Ezer, son of Mordekhai'. The pointer, or yad (hand) is used by the reader to follow the sacred text. When not in use, it is hung by a chain over the Torah breastplate.

The spice box is used during the Havdalah ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. The spices are blessed and the box is passed around for all to smell. After the ceremony, the new week starts.

Breastplate, spice box, yad and rimmonim
London, England, 1982 (rimmonim 1995);
designed and made by Gerald Benney (born 1930)
Silver, partly gilded
Lent by Edgar Astaire [22/11/2005]




Judaism; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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