Chanukah/Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime ‘festival of lights,’ celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting.
Hanukkah in Be’er Sheva
The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is named thus because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple.
It is also spelled Hanukkah (or variations of that spelling), and this is the spelling that I have used in the title of my painting, as not everyone knows that the Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu-kah, not tcha-new-kah.
I have aimed to create a feeling of happy togetherness, of unity, as Jews light the candles or oil lamps for the Festival. Individuals, family and friends are lighting their menorahs (chanukiot) in various ways. Some light them in their windows, a Jew lights the oil lamps outside (in a glass box to protect the lights from the wind) and a lit giant menorah (see note below) is surrounded by people dancing and enjoying the festival. This festival is celebrated throughout the whole world, and I have painted it in my City, Be’er Sheva, capital of the Negev. The apartment buildings in the background and the windows in the foreground are typical of Be’er Sheva, as, of course, are the palm trees. The Andarta (monument to the Negev Brigade) can be seen on the top right hand side.
- The concept of lighting a menorah in a way that allows the public to see it dates back to ancient times, where menorahs were lit outside of people’s homes in order to publicize the miracle of Hanukkah. The menorah burning in the window or outside is a message to fellow Jews as well as a signal to any person that Jews feel free to openly identify and show their beliefs. In all cases, the idea is to send out the glow to all people, to light up the darkness, to light up the world.
- The concept of lighting a large menorah in public was initiated by Rabbi Menachem Rabbi Schneerson, known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Since 1974, the concept of public menorahs has expanded and there are thousands throughout the world at Chanukah time now.
May each one of us light the flame within us and share it with others.