Menorahs from Israeli Designers who bring Illumination to the Hanukkah Holiday / Nik Klieman
Hanukkah (Chanukah) is a festive Jewish holiday of lights, commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century. This followed the Jewish revolt by the Hashmonaim against the Hellenists who controlled Jerusalem at that time. When it came to relight the Candelabra in the Temple the Hashmonaim could only find a small quantity of consecrated oil enough to light the Candelabra for one night. A miracle occurred and that small quantity of oil lasted for eight consecutive nights of illumination.
Since then Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah and commemorate that miracle by lighting candles for eight nights while adding an additional candle each night until the last night when eight candles remain lit. In many homes it is customary for every member of the family to participate in the festive holiday by lighting their own Menorah (candelabra) or Hanukiah as it is called in Israel.
Over the course of the centuries that have passed the Menorah has evolved as a decorative item of sentimental value often passed on from generation to generation. Materials a Menorah was made of varied from country to country and as seen in Museum collections ranged from silver to brass, copper, glass or ceramics.
Craftsmen and artisans in Israel, where the greatest variety of Menorahs may be found, continue to use traditional materials in producing their creations. However, what sets today’s Menorahs apart from those handed down through time are the designs and imaginative shapes which make these Menorahs unique as heirlooms for the future.
Menorahs made from silver can stand as the focal point of the candle lighting ceremony on Hanukkah due to their distinct design and character. Many Israeli craftsmen have adapted the techniques of silver work developed over generations by Yemenite master artisans. The engravings and hand beaten designs are pleasing to the eye during the Hanukah holiday as well as during the year.
Many Israeli designers have taken cost factors into consideration by working with materials other than silver or different precious metals. I am amazed at the creative designs offered by Israeli designers who have succeeded in blending bright colors into their Menorah creations made of stained glass or ceramics. Other modestly priced designs I have seen while surfing through Israeli web sites featuring Menorah creations by Israel’s top designers and craftsmen range from original olive wood Menorahs to those made from brass or pewter.
No matter which Menorah you may choose to celebrate the Holiday of Lights with, the one thing millions of celebrants share in common is the distinct and unique satisfaction viewing it as it stands on a table top with candles ablaze. The inherent beauty of Hanukah as well as other Jewish Holidays remains in the togetherness it brings to families who gather to celebrate ongoing tradition as it is passed from generation to generation.