Menorah (Hanukkah)

Menorah (Hanukkah)

Hanukkah Lamp, Lemberg (Lviv, Ukraine), 1867–72[1] from the collection of The Jewish Museum of New York
A 14th century Hanukkah lamp, France - Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme
A Macedonian silver Hanukkah Menorah
Silver Hanukkah menorah.
Hanukkah Menorah with David's star

The Hanukkah menorah or chanukiah (Hebrew: מנורת חנוכהmenorat ḥanukkah, pl. menorot) (also Hebrew: חַנֻכִּיָּהḥanukkiyah, or chanukkiyah, pl. ḥanukkiyot/chanukkiyot, or Yiddish: חנוכּה לאמפּ khanike lomp, lit.: Hanukkah lamp) is a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, as opposed to the seven-branched menorah used in the ancient Temple or as a symbol. On each night of Hanukkah a new branch is lit. The ninth holder, called the shamash ("helper" or "servant"), is for a candle used to light all other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. To be kosher the shamash must be offset on a higher or lower plane than the main eight candles or oil lamps.

There are differing opinions as to whether or not all the lights must be arranged in a straight line,[2][3] or if the channukiah can be arranged in a curve.[4][5] The menorah is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art. The seven-branched menorah is a traditional symbol of Judaism, along with the Star of David.[6]


  • Public displays 1
    • Legalities 1.1
  • Name 2
  • Public collections 3
  • Modern menorah 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Public displays

President Carter, Hanukkah Menorah Lighting, Lafayette Park, 1979.

The menorah is often displayed in public around Hanukkah time December. Elected officials often participate in publicly lighting the menorah. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement is well associated with public lighting ceremonies, which it has done since a directive from their last Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in 1987. In the book A Kosher Christmas: 'Tis the Season to Be Jewish," (Rutgers University Press, 2012), author Rabbi Joshua Plaut, Ph.D. details the history of public displays of the menorah across the United States, summarizes the courts cases associated with this issue, and explains how the Presidents of the United States came to embrace lighting the menorah during Hanukkah.

Since 1979, the White House Hanukkah Party in the White House residence, which includes a menorah candle lighting ceremony.

In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom each year holds a menorah lighting at the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons, located in the Palace of Westminster. The menorah currently used was commissioned by the Rt. Hon. Michael J. Martin MP, then Speaker of the House of Commons.[7] Martin is a Roman Catholic; his successor, John Bercow, is coincidentally the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Commons.

The world's largest non-Hanukkah 7-branched menorah is in Manado in Indonesia; a country with a Jewish population of less than 5% only. It stands at 62 feet tall.[8] Two big menorahs are in New York City, each standing at 32 feet. One is at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, World's Largest Menorah and the other is lit at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan near Central Park. A 4,000-pound structure, it is the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. Because of the menorah's heights, Con Edison assists the lighting by using a crane to lift each person to the top.


In the United States, the public display of menorot and Christmas trees on public grounds has been the source of legal battles. Specifically, in the 1989 County of Allegheny v. ACLU case, the majority of the US Supreme Court ruled that the public display of menorot and Christmas trees did not violate the Establishment Clause because the two symbols were not endorsements of the Jewish or Christian faith, rather the two items are part of the same winter-holiday season, which, the court found, had attained a secular status in U.S. society.


The lamp is most commonly called a "Hanukkah menorah," or simply "menorah" for short, whereas in Modern Hebrew it is exclusively called a chanukkiyah, and the Hebrew word menorah simply means "lamp". The term chanukkiyah was coined at the end of the nineteenth century in Jerusalem by the wife of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language.[9]

Public collections

U.S. President Harry S. Truman in the Oval Office, receiving a Hanukkah Menorah as a gift from the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion (center). To the right is Abba Eban, the Ambassador of Israel to the United States.

Many museums have notable collections of Hanukkah menorot, including the Israel Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[10] and the Jewish Museum, which owns the Lindo lamp.[11] Outside of the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, there is a 5 meter high bronze menorah called the Knesset Menorah.

There's also a fairly impressive collection in the small Jewish Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Modern menorah

Modern menorot, menorot with less-traditional designs, are gaining in popularity with hundreds of new designs coming out since 2007.[12] A nine-year-old boy in Manhattan raised over $48,000 via a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 to produce a turkey-shaped menorah, to be used to celebrate Thanksgivukkah.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Hanukkah Lamp, BD, Judaica, Ceremonial Art". The Jewish Museum. 2001-12-10. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  2. ^ "What Constitutes a Kosher Chanukah Menorah?". Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. 
  3. ^ "Do the candles on the menorah have to be in a straight line to be kosher?". Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Is a curved Menorah kosher for Hanukkah?". Judaism. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Laws of Chanukah". Orthodox Union. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Judaism A-Z Yacov Newman, Gavriel Sivan
  7. ^ "M.P. Levene Special Commissions". Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (22 November 2010). "In Sliver of Indonesia, Public Embrace of Judaism". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Hanukkah Menorah". Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  11. ^ Jerusalem Post, Jul 21, 2009, London's Jewish Museum preparing to buy 300-year-old hanukkia for new location, Sarah Sechan [2]
  12. ^ "If It's Hip, It's Here: The Mongo Modern Menorah List: Over 140 Hip Chanukah Candelabras". Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  13. ^ Davidovich, Joshua (October 9, 2013). "US Jews ready for Thanksgivukkah". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 

External links

  • Yearly lighting of the Menorah at the White House in Washington DC
  • Hanukkah Lamps from the collection of The Jewish Museum (New York)