The Hanukkah menorah (Hebrew: מנורת חנוכה m'noraht khanukkah, pl. menorot) (also Hebrew: חַנֻכִּיָּהhanukiah, or chanukkiyah, pl. hanukiyot/chanukkiyot, or Yiddish: חנוכּה לאמפּ khanike lomp, lit.: Hanukkah lamp) is, strictly speaking, 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. 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. 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.[2]

Public displays

Main article: Public menorah

The menorah is often displayed in public around Hanukkah time. 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 (also see

Since 1979, the White House has been represented at the lighting of a national menorah in celebration of Hanukkah, beginning with the attendance of President Jimmy Carter in the ceremony in Lafayette Park. Additionally, beginning with President Bill Clinton in 1993, a Hanukkah menorah is lit at the White House, and in 2001, President George W. Bush began the annual tradition of a 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.[3] 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 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, due to the separation of church and state. 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.


In the English-speaking diaspora, 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.

Public collections

Many museums have notable collections of Hanukkah menorot, including the Israel Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[5] and the Jewish Museum, which owns the Lindo lamp.[6] 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.[7] There are websites dedicated to celebrating the modern menorah.[8] One popular type of modern menorah is the modular menorah: menorot made up of several different pieces which can be re-arranged each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. To be kosher, one candle holder sits higher than the others for the shamash, the worker candle, the one which is used to light the other candles.[9]

To celebrate Thanksgivukkah in 2013, funds of over $48,000 to produce a turkey-shaped menorah, dubbed a "menurkey," were raised by a nine-year-old boy in Manhattan, New York, via a Kickstarter campaign.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

See also


External links

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