Moysheh Oyved was the pseudonym of Edward Good, born Moshe Gudak in 1885 in Skampe (Skape), Vlotsavek District, Poland. His father was a Chazan (Cantor) and Schochet (Slaughterer) near Torun (Thorn) near the German border. In 1908 he opened a jewellery ship in London which prospered and became known as “Cameo Corner” near the British Museum. The shop sold artwork, antiques and jewellery and became a meeting point for writers (such as George Bernard Shaw) and artists.
Moysheh Oyved / Edward Good began writing at age fourteen and his first printed book in 1917 was entitled Aroys fun khaos (Away from chaos), printed in Yiddish in London by Israel Narodiczy. He was quite prolific and wrote poetry, prose and an autobiography. Some of his books were published in both English and separately in Yiddish. He was associated with the Jewish art association, Ben-Uri and other Yiddish cultural activities in London, and wrote for A. N. Stencl’s magazine, Loshn un Leben. I have written previously about an issue of Loshn un Leben including poems by Moysheh Oyved here.
Edward Good / Moysheh Oyved died in London in 1958.
This extract from the Jewish Chronicle of May 17th, 1935 illustrates the success of his Jewellery shop – and jewels are a central motif in his writing :
The Queen Honours “Moysheh Oyved”
Her Majesty the Queen, who was accompanied by the Princess Royal, paid one of her many visits to the antique shop of Mr. Edward Good (“Moysheh Oyved”) in Holborn last week. She stayed for over an hour, and bought a number of objects, including a tiny clock in gold and enamel for the famous Doll’s House. In the course of an interview, Mr. Good said “The Queen never buys indiscriminately. She chooses an object to put in an exact place or to give to a special person or museum. She has the memory of a genius, and has an expert’s knowledge of jewels and the antique.” When the Queen paid her first-visit to the shop ten years ago she said to Mr. Good : “A man who knows the East told me you have an interesting shop. We had not your correct address, and we have been looking for you for half-an-hour.” Before leaving the shop the Queen presented Mr. Good with a porcelain dish, which she had brought with her, as a Jubilee present.
This particular book was published in English, by Faber and Faber, and in Yiddish by Israel Narodiczky’s Narod Press. It is the story of Moysheh Oyved’s opening and closing of a shop in Jerusalem in 1934. His prose sometimes crosses the line into poetry, and the book, in a way, has been described as a fairy tale.
The first chapter is entitled Word and Gold.
With me it happened this way. in my youth I did not grasp the Word. Only later, when I became a jeweller, when my fingers became enlivened and my spirit stimulated by antique jewels, I discovered a bridge leading from the living gold to the living Word. Crossing that bridge I found the ancient Word ageless and fresh, like the ancient gold; whilst the new world and the new gold of our days seemed to be wilted and lifeless. And my heart wept over this decay, whose cause was yet hidden from me.
Sometimes a star would slide down the banister of its ray into my lodging, with a vision thjat word and gold would each be restored to its own kingdom. I used to dream that I had ceased to be a mere parasite on past glories; that I was creating, and causing to be created, in our own time, a luxury fit for us to taste and for the future to feast on. until the day actually came which gave substance to the dream, and content to the vision.
The third chapter is entitled A Holy Shop
From that very moment I was infused with a strong will to build a shop in Jerusalem, a Temple for Beauty. in the midst of it there should be a miniature shop with small nice things for the young and for babies, for I believed strongly in the paramount importance of giving them all a jewellery culture. Precious stones, who are enduring witnesses of the Eternal, should be the birthright of every new-born babe.
I collected a regiment of pounds sterling, deciding to take them to Jerusalem, there to erect the holy shop. I packed up many of my most precious gems, historic and prehistoric, odds and ends and fragments of all the ages which I had collected for about a quarter of a century and hatched with love. I took with me Ahaviel and some of her creations; also a few heroic portrait busts by the Anglo-Jewish sculptor, and left my country and my kindred.
By the end of 1934 we arrived in Jerusalem.
This is not a travellers book to describe national costumes, cookeries and climates. therefore a thousand and one incidents must be omitted, for this is a pilgrim’s book.
Almost like Rabbinical Haskamas, the book ends with reviews from the Times Literary Supplement and from Laurence Binyon (the English poet and dramatist who wrote the poem “For the Fallen”).