Hanukkah Sameach!

For Hanukkah in the year 5782, the Jewish Museum Vienna presents eight hanukkiot from its collection. On each day of the Festival of Lights, a different hanukkiah can be admired.

Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the month Kislev, which coinciding with November or December. As a lunisolar calendar, the Jewish calendar calculates the months according to the moon and the year according to the sun. The names of the months were taken from the Babylonian calendar. "Kislev" means "thick," referring to the rain clouds of the beginning of winter.

Hanukkiah from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (1990) by Noga AshkenaziJewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah. Jerusalem, 1990

This hanukkah menorah was exhibited on the occasion of the exhibition "Eternal Content in New Form. Judaica from the Bezalel Academy of Art" at the Jewish Museum. The artist Noga Ashkenazi donated this object to the museum after the exhibition.

Hanukkiah from Bezalel Academy of Arts and DesignJewish Museum Vienna

Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design was founded in 1906 by sculptor and writer Boris Schatz

A close friend of Theodor Herzl, Boris Schatz went to Palestine with the artist Ephraim Moses Lilien in 1906. By founding the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem he initiated the first Jewish museum in Palestine, the Bezalel National Museum.

Hanukkah means " consecration " and refers to the reconsecration of the Jerusalem Temple in 164 B.C.E. After the successful uprising of the Jewish Maccabees against an overpowering Seleucid army, the Temple, desecrated by an altar to Zeus, could be repurified and put back into use.

Hanukkiah (1836)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah. Vienna, 1836

A Hanukkah menorah in the form of a fashionable Biedermeier sofa? Hanukkiot in the form of seating furniture are a cross-country phenomenon of the 19th century.

The inventory of 1917 states: "From the bequest of the blessed Baurätin Stiassny donated by her son Dr. Sigmund Stiassny, Vienna". The "blessed Baurätin" was the wife of Wilhelm Stiassny, architect and one of the first curators of the Jewish Museum.

This hanukkiah shows no traces of use. Presumably, the Stiassny family used a different hanukkah menorah when they celebrated Hanukkah at home.

For the reconsecration of the temple, the seven-branched temple candelabrum, the menorah, was to burn. The small amount of remaining kosher oil was sufficient to keep the candelabrum burning for eight days, which is how long it took to organize new kosher oil.

Hanukkiah (1900)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah. Vienna, 1900

This silver Art Nouveau chanukkiah is powered by oil and wicks. This hanukkiah is supported by a marble base, in the center of which is embedded a round silver plaque with the portrait of Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism.

We know from Herzl's diary that he had a tree in his Vienna apartment for Hanukkah in 1894, which coincided with Christmas.

In response to the concerns of the astonished Rabbi Güdemann, Theodor Herzl replied that it was not a Christmas tree but a "Hanukkah tree".

To commemorate the miracle of oil in the Jerusalem Temple, food prepared in oil is eaten during Hanukkah, with culinary options ranging from sweet doughnuts to savory potato pancakes.

Hanukkiah (1920)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah for Travelling. Vienna, 1920

Made of metal and silver, the candelabrum in the form of a rectangular box has a rich floral engraving. Inside the lid, a Star of David is attached.

When the hinged lid is opened, eight oil containers become visible, whose wicks emerge through the front wall. The handy locking mechanism also makes this hanukkiah suitable for use during a journey.

The Hanukkah lights are supposed to burn for at least 30 minutes. According to Ashkenazi tradition, the candles in Central and Eastern Europe are lit from left to right. Minhag Austria, the Austrian custom fixed in the Middle Ages by the Viennese rabbi Israel Isserlein, stipulates lighting from right to left. In France and Italy, but also in the Hasidic communities in Eastern Europe, the lights are placed from right to left and the lighting is started with the candle furthest to the left.

Hanukkiah, Northern Africa (1897)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah. 1897

This hanukkiah may also have made a journey. According to the inventory book of the old Jewish Museum in Vienna, founded in 1895, it entered the collection as a gift from the Viennese art dealer Julius Kopstein on 28 May 1897 as a "Menorah, Moorish".

The Hebrew word "menorah" means "lamp", but also refers to the seven-branched candelabrum in the Jerusalem Temple. The menorah is one of the most important Jewish religious symbols and the emblem of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

"Moorish" refers to the artistic style of the Arab peoples and Islamised Berbers in the Maghreb and Andalusia. In 1938, this hanukkah menorah was confiscated, inventoried in the Ethnological Museum and restituted to the Jewish Community at the end of the 1940s.

The hanukkah menorah is placed so that it is visible to the public. Behind it is the commandment to continue telling the miracle with the oil. The burning hanukkiot are usually placed in a window, in Israel they are also found in house entrances. The mezuzah is placed on the right side, the hanukkiah is opposite.

Hanukkiah (1750/1799)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukka Menorah. Austria-Hungary, 18th Century

Does this Hanukkah have ten light sources? To the left and right of the eight light sources required for the Hanukkah feast is an additional candle stick, one of which is used as a servant (shammash).

With this servant light, the remaining candles are lit, one each evening, until all eight are lit on the eighth day of Hanukkah. But the two additional lights can of course also be used as weekly Shabbat candles.

On Hanukkah, children and adults play with a dreidel, a spinning top with four Hebrew letters on its four sides. These are the first letters of the sentence: A great miracle happened there. This refers to the miracle of oil in the temple. At the "Dreidl Casino" you play for chocolate or nuts, but also for money.

Hanukkiah (1993)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hannukah Menorah. USA, 1990s

You don't need candles, oil or wicks for this candlestick. A practical Velcro mechanism allows another candle to be attached to the fabric chandelier every evening, and there is even an additional servant light.

The object, purchased in 1993 for the Jewish Museum Vienna, is suitable for decorating sofas or armchairs and can be used safely in children's rooms.

During the hanukkah festival, the Jewish Museum Vienna celebrates together with its visitors on the eight Hanukkah evenings. Explanations of the hanukkah festival, the corresponding blessings when lighting the candles by Viennese rabbis and the joint singing of hanukkah songs make Jewish tradition tangible for everyone. Kosher doughnuts included!

HanukkiahJewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Menorah. Amsterdam, 18th Century

The hanukkah menorah used in these joint celebrations at the Jewish Museum is a standing brass candelabrum. The lion and the three crosses in the coat of arms are the emblems of the city of Amsterdam, which built a synagogue for its Jewish citizens as early as 1675.

Hanukkiah (1750/1799)Jewish Museum Vienna

Hanukkah Sameach!

Credits: Story

Hannah Landsmann, Cornelia Regehr

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