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History of the Jewish Menorah

June 21, 2015

History of the Jewish Menorah
Two-toned heart menorah by Gary Rosenthal

Two-toned heart menorah by Gary Rosenthal

One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah. The first menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem was a seven-branched candelabrum that was used, not to light the Temple, but to symbolize the Jewish mission to be “a light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). This artifact was lost when the Temple was destroyed. Following the tradition of not duplicating anything from the destroyed Temple, later menorahs were designed with six or eight candles.

Today, the Jewish menorah is used most prominently during the celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. The holiday commemorates the restoration of order to Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. The Temple had been desecrated, and in order to restore the Temple’s sanctity, ritual oil was needed. There was only a day’s worth of oil to be found, but it lasted for eight days— a miracle that allowed the Temple to be purified and rededicated.

by Eran Hornick

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