Hanukkah is an opportunity to review the Menorah, the oldest and most famous Jewish symbol. More than the Star of David, more than any other Jewish symbol – the Menorah is the identity of  the Jewish people.

When the leaders of the State of Israel had to choose a symbol they chose the menorah, but not just any menorah – it is a very specific one.

The first menorah we encounter is the menorah described in the Bible. It is a symbol of light and unity, peace and holiness.

In archaeology we find the menorah minted on a coin of the last Hasmonean king, Antigonus II Mattathias of the first century B.C.E. This is the same menorah that appears on the modern-day 10 Agorot coin of the State of Israel.

10 Agorot coin

During the excavations of the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem carried out after the 6 day war, archaeologists discovered an engraved menorah on one of the walls of a house. This house is assumed to have belonged to a family of Kohanim (priests) in Jerusalem during the first century C.E.

The menorah in the Herodian quarter

From the same time period we have a very famous menorah in Titus’s arch in Rome.

Titus’s arch in Rome

As a symbol of the victory over Judea, Titus erects an arch which depicts the menorah being carried away.

When the young State of Israel is looking for a symbol, it is a natural choice to bring the menorah back home

Symbol of the State of Israel

Every year on Hanukkah we light candles for 8 days to remember the miracle of the Hasmoneans fighting the Greeks and rededicating the temple by lighting the menorah.

Hanukkah also happens to fall during the darkest time of the year. We try to brighten up the days by lighting the Hanukah candles and remembering what they stand for:

During the darkest times of the world we need to stand up and shine our light.

Praying for all hardships and suffering to end, especially in our neighboring country, Syria, and for warmth and light to shine again

 

‘Not by might nor by power but by my spirit, said the Lord of Hosts’ (Zacharia 4:6)

 

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