Hanukkah and the Meaning of the Menorah

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is best known as the winter holiday when Jewish people light the menorah and exchange gifts.  Hanukkah, also known as "Chanukah" or "Hanukah", commemorates the victory of the Jews over their Greek rulers in the mid-second century B.C.E. 

Many, however, prefer to shift the holiday's focus away from a military-victory celebration, in favor of the commemoration of the "Miracle of Lights."  According to the ancient story, when the Jews re-dedicated the Holy Temple, there was very little oil remaining to light the Temple menorah (or candelabra), as the bulk of the lamp oil had been polluted.  But the oil that was only enough for one day miraculously lasted eight days.  This is considered to be the origin of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah.

The seven-branched menorah's presence in the Holy Temple had been commanded in the Torah (the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament), where its construction from a single piece of gold is described in great detail.  It would seem that the nine-branched Hanukkah menorah, also called a “chanukiah,” is a tribute to the seven-branched menorah that was used in the Temple long ago. 


In modern times, during this celebration Jewish people across the globe light one menorah candle on the first night of Hanukkah and add a candle each successive night.  In the world of contemporary Judaica, "menorot" (plural of menorah) are crafted from a wide range of materials, and represent a wealth of varying ideas about the meaning of the holiday. Steve Resnick's design company produces exquisite etched glass menorahs.


Nickel-plated menorahs by Michael Aram 
are some of the most popular designs out there. 



Glass menorahs by Shardz are 
 stunning in their design and craftsmanship.


Tamara Baskin crafts menorot from fused glass, featuring 
themes ranging from whimsy to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. 

Another Judaica style focuses on light-hearted, painted-metal animal menorahs.


There really is a menorah for everyone, 
even for someone who travels over the holiday! 

Gallery Judaica