It is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in in 164 BCE against the Syrian-Greek Seleucid Empire and the Hellenized Jews, led by Mattityahu, a Jewish priest. After three years of fighting, they finally liberated the Temple. The re-possession of the intellectual and religious center amplified the power of warriors. Although the fighting lingered on, the contemporaries witnessed two miracles: victory against a more forceful army and the miracle of oil. According to a Talmudic legend, one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.
The first bronze Hanukkah lamps depicting Judith and the cutoff head of Holofernes were made in the Renaissance Italy. Sources of the late antiquity and renaissance associated Judith with the Hasmonean family, and included her as a symbol of courage and pride in objects reminiscent of Jewish independence.
Folk art Hanukkah menorah. Simple, wall mounted, brass Hanukkah lamp with folk flower motives. In the salient potholes there might have been small pots in which the Hanukkah flames were lit.
In the 12th-13th century, the wall-hung types of Hanukkah lamps appeared, from which more copies, primarily made of bronze, are known in northwestern Europe. These Hanukkah lamps were hung on the doorpost, facing the mezuzah, the reminder of the miracle of exodus from Egypt. Later, it was customary to light the candles on the left of the doorpost, so by entering the apartment one could pass between two objects, each recalling a separate miracle.
Hanukkah lamp ornated with lions. On the backrest of the brass, wall-mounted lamp two lions hold the burning flames in oil pitcher, clearly referring to the miracle of Hanukkah oil.
Hanukkah lamp with winged putti. Cast brass Hanukkah lamp with two baroque winged putti on the backrest.
Hanukkah lamp with the gates of Jerusalem. The backrest of the cast brass Hanukkah menorah evokes the gates of Jerusalem.
Placing it in the Window
Hanukkah is the commemoration and proclamation of the miracle. Some light the candles on the left side of the entrance, opposite the mezuzah. In cities another practice has gained currency, whereby the Menorah is placed and lit in windows – that is why we have also placed the Menorahs on display in a window.
It’s also widespread in the modern age that Hanukkah menorahs have the characteristic architectural features of the area they were cast; it’s not unusual that they are modeled after specific buildings. This Polish Hanukkah menorah made of brass invokes the synagogues of the region.
Hanukkah lamp. Cast brass lamp with an ornated backrest from the first third of the 19th Century.
Hanukkah lamp with the combination of candles and oil lamp. This cast, brass Hanukkah lamp can be mounted on the wall or cast on the window sill.Its speciality is that while the flames that must be lit ritually are oil-fueled, the shamash, with which they are lit is a candle - that is the candlestick for placed on the right side of the object.
Unicorn' Hanukkah lamp. This Polish, cast brass lamp can be mounted on a wall or placed in a window or on a table. On the backrest, two lions hold an oil jug. The lion on the right hand-side seems to be a unicorn but its horn is probably the now broken holder of the ninth candle, the shamash. However, unicorns do appear in the judaica of the Polish regions.
Hanukkah lamp with deer. The Hanukkah lamps used in Eastern Europe are usually bench-shaped objects, made out of brass or copper. On the bench there are the eight branches while the backrest and the sides are ornated with the characteristic plants and animals of Jewish iconography.The shape of the deer invokes the psalm ' As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.! (Psalm 42:2.) The lid of the oil containers is fish-shaped, which is the symbol of abundance and fertility.
Hanukkah lamp. Brass Hanukkah lamp, similar to the former one but in a simpler design.It's speciality is that a cover plate can be folded above the drop-shaped oil containers which could be used to fix the candle wicks made out of wool fibres. Poland, 18-19th Century
Some of the Menorahs in are collection were home-made and were assembled from objects intended originally for different purposes. Thus we can identify Menorahs made of silverware, tin mold, Torah shield or perforated copper plate. Each of them has eight lamps and a shamash to proclaim the miracle.
This very simple Polish Hanukkah menorah is a genuine recycling object. Its perforated back plate is the residue of grain tokens made of brass, on which the bust of Napoleon was retrofitted from a presumably different object. The Polish Jews saw their political and legal liberator in the figure of Napoleon, and for this reason his figure could appear on this ceremonial object.
Hanukkah lamps made from pie pans. As Hanukkah is a family holiday, Hanukkah lamps can be found in even the poorest households. It is presumably a home-made Hanukkah lamp made of pie pans, decorated with an embossed copperplate backboard.
Hanukkah lamp from Prague. Hanukkah lamp from Prague from the 18th Century with Moses and Aaron on the sides, who evoke the high priests serving in the Temple. On the backrest the Star of David can be seen, which used to be the symbol of the Jewish community in Prague since the 17th century.
Recycled Hanukkah menorah. The small silver Hanukkah lamp that was designed to be mounted on the wall was probably made by a silver master craftsman with the initials MB with the reusing of existing elements.Its oil containers are recycled teaspoons, and on the backboard that was made from a napkin holder, beside the roughly cast doves, the fine-cut silver filigree rosettes are probably from a different object. Hungary, end of the 19th century.
Hanukkah lamp remade from a Torah shield. The backboard of the Hanukkah lamp, made in 1813 in Pest, was probably a Torah shield originally. It is indicated by its shape, its ornamentation with the two lions holding the Tables of the Ten Commandments with crowns above them and the small hole now covered where presumably plaques that showed the names of the holidays were placed originally.The bench with the small jars to ignite the Hanukkah flames was supplemented later.
Hanukkah lamp. Since Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday, each year one of its days falls on Saturday (Sabbath). Then the Hanukkah flames are to be ignited first, followed by the Sabbath candles. On the bench of the brass Hanukkah lamp there are eight small cylindrical containers where both oil and candles can be lit while the Sabbath candles can be placed in the candle-holders on the two protruding branches.
Hanukkah lamps used in Eastern Europe were usually made of brass or copper with a rectangular molded base that are reminiscent of a bench. The eight oil containers on the bench, with manifold decorations on their back and side plates, are drawn from the typical Jewish iconography of plant and animal motives. It may be surprising that decorations show significant political figures of the era. On the two side plates of the Hanukkah menorah made of brass, we see two guardsmen. While on the back plate, Leopold II., who gave favorable legal framework for the Jews of the Austrian Empire, is visible.
The Hanukkah lamps made of silver filigree, which are decorated with the pillars of the Temple of Jerusalem, a small replica of the Torah ark, a crown and a double-headed eagle, were developed in Galicia and in the area of today’s Ukraine. There are small jars to contain the flames, recalling the jar of oil of the Hanukkah story. This type spread from the 1820s, and since 1928 it has been known as the Baal Shem Tov type of Hanukkiah, named after the famous Galician rabbi.
Hanukkah lamp in two parts. Hanukkah lamp made by mortising two previous ones, from Vienna. The backboard was made in 1849, where two lions are holding the double stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, above which is the Imperial Crown of Austria, representing the crown of Torah. The foot and the bench of the menorah were made between 1872 and 1922 in Vienna.
Alpaca Hanukkah lamp. Perhaps this type was the most popular in Hungary during the 19-20th centuries. The historicizing Hanukkah lamp was made from the relatively cheap alpaca and ornamented with common Jewish symbols.Oil pots or stearin candles, which were by then available at a low price, could be placed in the stick-out part with the shape of a manger.
"Poor" Hanukkah lamp. Very simple poorly decorated Hanukkah lamp, the only ornamentation is the indented star motif on its backboard.Its origin is unkown.
Hanukkah lamp of the widow of Neuberger Ignác. By the end of the 19th century the firm of Jakubowski and Jarra became a major supplier of silverware in the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Due to the significant market, they also made judaica including the beautiful piece displayed , ornamented with palm trees, lions and shape of the menorah of the Temple. The Hanukkah lamp was donated to the museum by the widow of Neuberger Ignác in 1911.
Hanukkah lamp by Jakubowski and Jarra. This Hanukkah lamp by Jakubowski and Jarra, where the lights are to be lit in small oil pots, is similar to the previous one though its design is a little simpler.
A cheaper version of the Hanukkah lamp. This silvery brass Hanukkah lamp is an even simpler and cheaper version of the former one.
A cheaper type of Hanukkah lamp by Jakubowski and Jarra. The Hanukkah lamp follows the trendy shape wchich has stood the test of time,but it is already made from the cheaper brass.
"Bauhaus" Hanukkah lamp. This simple Hanukkah lamp, which was made in the 1920s or 30s, shows the influence of Bauhaus with its clean lines. On the backboard are the double Tables of the Ten Commandments, on which the commandments were written with novel typographic Hebrew letters by the creator whose initials were ED.
A Hanukkah menorah can be made of any material; the only condition is that there must be eight flames next to each other, in a specified order, and in one line. A small piece of this kitschy object made of shell is probably a souvenir from a holiday on the seaside.
Hanukkah lamp with branches. Decorative, standing Hanukkah lamp with branches made of silvery brass.
Menorah or Hanukkiah?
A seven-lamp candelabrum called Menorah used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, became the symbol Judaism in the Diaspora.
The eight-lamp Menorah, called Hannukiah, is a ceremonial object; it can be made of any material whatsoever, the only regulation being that eight branches need to be lit with the help of the ninth branch called shamash. The term Hanukkiah is the product of the Hebrew language reform.
Only in the 17th century did the standing version of menorah appear, with branches that resemble the one described in the biblical Temple (Exodus 25: 31-39: menorah). The Jewish tradition prohibits the production of sacred objects modeled on the objects of the Temple, but does not prohibit them if they are made of other material or with other formative content. The standing Hanukkah candelabras used mostly with candles were modeled on the standing, seven-branched golden menorah, decorated with flowers and knobs of the Temple. They were made not for synagogues but for family use, so their sizes are relatively small. The base of the menorah, the six candleholders and the base of the 8th branch are later works. The arms can be rotated.
The saddest object of the exhibition case is the simple Hanukkah lamp made in the ghetto of Pest. The candle holders made of breadcrumbs fitted onto a plain wooden panel were used between 11th and 19th of December 1944.
Israeli Hanukkah lamp from the 1960s. This decorative Hanukkah lamp that was made in Israel evokes the optimistic state-building atmosphere of the 1960s with its cheerful red color and clear lines. The Hebrew language renewal introduced the word hanukkiah for the Hanukkah lamps, which, since they became mass-produced furnishing accesories, are now available in numerous forms and versions .
Modern Israeli Hanukkah lamp. In modern Israel, the memory of the Maccabee heroes and the liberation of Jerusalem have also been enhanced with a symbolic political content. The round-arched ornaments of the Hanukkah lamp made in the 1950s show the symbols of the ancient Israeli tribes, with lion mosaic above them.