What makes the Hannukah Menorah different from other Menorahs? This question is sounding a bit like Passover, but really we are talking about Chanukah. The Hanukiah (Hanukkah Menorah) is a symbol of the Hanukkah miracle, the container of oil that should only have lasted one night, but burned for eight. The real miracle of course is that a bunch of random guerrilla Jews, the Maccabees, were able to avoid the destruction of our faith and thwart off the entire Syrian army.
How many candles are there on a Menorah and how do you light it?
Whereas the 7 branched menorah was the lamp used in the ancient holy temple in Jerusalem. Now the premiere symbol of Judaism and an emblem of Israel, it was kept lit 24-7 (it was an oil lamp with seven cups) and was looted by the Romans when the Temple was destroyed. A Chanukiah has nine cups, eight for the eight nights of the holiday plus one for the Shamash, or helper (interestingly also called the leader or servant) candle, used to light the others. The candles are inserted incrementally each night from right to left, but lit from left to right.
Hanukkah, is primarily celebrated at home, beginning on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, usually falling in December, and lasting for eight days. (check here for the exact date). At what is the coldest, darkest time of the year for most people, we celebrate by bringing light and warmth into our homes, into our communities and into the world around us - hence the Festival of Light.
Being a glass artist, I am naturally biased towards handmade Hannukiahs with how special and unique they are. But certainly there are lovely manufactured ones and don't forget the home made ones. Some people love to collect menorahs and some families like to have a Chanukiah for each member of the family to light their own.
Public HannukiahsIt has been lovely to see the proliferation of public outdoor Hannukiahs in recent years. Did you know that the world's largest menorah stands at 32 feet on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan near Central Park. It is a 4,000-pound gold colored steel structure and is the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. It uses real oil lamps, which are lit with the aid of a cherry-picker.
As we sum up so many Jewish holidays - "They tried to kill us, we prevailed, let's eat". So whether you spell it Hannukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukiah or Hannukiah - We wish you a festival of light, family, community, dreidls and potato latkes.