A friend turned to me last week. She consulted our website to purchase a Chanukah menorah as a bar mitzvah gift and was overwhelmed by the huge variety. Could I help her make the choice? It was certainly flattering that she asked my advice. I have been helping my husband market Judaica for many years, and having met many of the artists personally, I like to think that I have picked up some knowledge and experience on the way.
I agreed with her that the choice is daunting but at the same time, as I mused with her, we can be proud of the creativity, talent and individual expression this expresses. There are thousands of menorah designs on the market today but people are always ready for more. The menorah has a rejuvenation each year and now is the season when my husband is adding scores of new designs to our website.
Why are there so many menorahs on the market? Well, since in many homes, the custom is for each member of the family to kindle their own menorah, a lot of menorahs are needed! Besides, the menorah is the focal point of Chanukah – the favorite holiday for so many. So, of course, you will want to indulge in a new menorah each year to celebrate the festival.
Talking to my husband’s customers, I discovered another reason – a menorah is not restricted to Chanukah. It is a wonderful year-round display item. Many can be hung on the wall or stand in your breakfront cabinet. It is a proud expressions of Jewish identity that gives inspiration throughout the year.
So, for my friend – and for anyone else who is interested – I share with you my summary of the menorah types available on the market this year.
- CHABAD (AJudaica has samples)
You don’t have to belong to Chabad to thoroughly enjoy the distinctive angular branches that feature their Menorah. Tall and elegant, they are usually displayed in public places, parks, stores and more. Bring one into your home. Place it alongside a wide entrance. It is a wonderful expression of pride in Jewish identity and is also a meaningful gift to present to your Synagogue, school or community hall.
- CLASSIC DESIGNS
Older people usually prefer the classic style menorah without innovations or “shtick”. They want the curving branches with a decorative stem, all standing on a firm base. Usually ornately decorated, they come in silver or gold colors in varying heights. Another model, always popular, is the eye-level menorah with an elaborate engraved backsplash. Today, modern techniques treat metal giving it a wonderful antique look that is really exquisite.
In contrast to the restrained classic designs, you will find on the market a fantastic selection of elaborate artistic menorahs that are incredibly beautiful Whatever their theme – flowers, Jerusalem, nature scenes or sleek geometrical shapes, they are breathtakingly beautiful – perfect for the contemporary style home that is looking for tradition with a modern touch. All of them will make magnificent year-round decorations.
Chanukah is the kids’ holiday. A splendid gift for any child will be vibrantly colored menorahs, shaped like cars or fire engines. For safety, make sure they are lit with full adult supervision. For the young, and young in heart, there are lots of playful menorahs. Try Laura Cowan’s Tic Tac T or the menorahs of prestigious artists like Dabbah or Agayof. There are lots of colors and styles – something for every taste and pocket
Credit: Laura Cowan’s Tic Tac Toe Menorah
Following the trend in interior designing and architecture, the passion for simplistic design has reached menorahs too. Adi Sidler, champion of minimalist Judaica design, has an entire collection in gorgeous modern metallic colors. He even offers a range of minimal size space-saving menorahs that will fit into your pocket – perfect for the busy traveler or young people lighting in dormitory rooms.
There are lots of wonderful ideas for creative parents who want to keep those little hands busy. For business reasons, my husband does not stock them but I still recommend them. When my kids were small, I spend many hours with them, carving, cutting and sticking and, whatever the result, we made sure to give it a place of honor on the Menorah table. Making a DIY menorah as a family is fun and creative and gives enormous satisfaction.
- STERLING SILVER
If you are looking for a luxurious menorah, consider sterling silver. Depending on your budget there are glorious designs that will have everyone oohing with admiration. They usually come with a stem and of course the taller the stem the higher the menorah. In many religious families, a silver menorah is the de-rigeur gift for the new prospective son-in-law.
In closing, I share with you a thought. Presenting someone dear to you with a menorah, is much more than a gift. It is an expression of attachment to the commitment of Jewish survival. For over two thousand years, Jews have been kindling the menorah lights every Chanukah. These lights celebrate the miracle of the lights and the miracle of the victory. Prominently displayed, the menorah declares to the world, “Am Yisrael Chai” – we are here today – a link in the chain of Jewish continuity.
It is in this spirit that I love to stroll with my children on a Chanukah evening, through the streets of Jerusalem in the religious neighborhoods. It is an awe-inspiring sight to see the countless windows displaying a row of menorahs – one for each member of the household. We stand at one spot and see who can count the most menorahs. We keep discovering more and more.
So, yes, continue giving the gift of a menorah. Share with others its inspiring message of hope, faith and joy. Whether you use candles or wicks, the flames that burn brightly in the winter night, are a reminder of how centuries ago, in Jerusalem, in the Land of Israel, a small band of Jews kindled a ray of light that overcome ignorance and darkness.
Happy Chanukah or as we say for eight days “Chanukah Sa’mayach!”