A version of this article was originally posted in December 2018 and was written by museum intern Parker Vaughn. We’re revisiting it today to celebrate Hanukkah 2019. The exhibition Lighting the World: Menorahs from around the Globe is on view through December 2019 and can be seen during all Museum hours. The Museum will host a special lighting ceremony for several of the menorahs in the exhibition after December 25th’s Klez for Kids concerts!
Sitting along the elaborately decorated walls of the Museum’s historic sanctuary are dozens of menorahs, whose own ornate decoration is giving the sanctuary a run for its money. The Hanukkah lamps are part of an exhibition entitled Lighting the World: Hanukkah Menorahs from Around the Globe and it explores the diversity of menorahs from all around the world. This exhibition truly offers a window into the past and a glimpse into the global Jewish communities spanning 500 years and five continents. The vast array of 89 unique menorahs, provided by the private collection of Aharon Ben Zalman, are simply breathtaking. While looking at these menorahs, one can’t help but wonder who might have owned them in the past, what their life was like, and how these lamps were used.
What’s so exciting about this collection is how truly diverse the menorahs are, in style, material and origin. Not only do they come from all corners of the globe, but their design and material reflect their origins and the people who would have used them. The menorahs are beautiful objects in their own right, but they also tell a compelling story about the diversity of Jewish life through history and around the world.
The exhibition was managed, like all the exhibitions at the Museum, by our archivist and exhibition curator Nancy Johnson. I recently had a chance to catch up with Nancy and learn more about the show from her. Enjoy our conversation, and come see the show yourself sometime soon!