Examples of Judaica on View at Met Museum for Hanukkah
In conjunction with the celebration of Hanukkah -- the Jewish Festival of Lights, observed this year from the evening of December 16 through the evening of December 24 -- a magnificent, late 19th-century silver Menorah made in Lviv, Ukraine, is on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 12, 2015. A special handout listing this work and 10 other important examples of Judaica on view throughout the building is available free of charge during Hanukkah and may be obtained at the Museum's Information Desks.
Made in 1866-72, the ceremonial lamp -- which is cast, chased, and engraved with elaborate motifs -- is one of the largest silver Hanukkah lamps known. It was made for the Great Synagogue in Lviv (Lvov in Polish or Lemberg in German). The Menorah is on view in the European Sculpture and Decorative Art Galleries among works made between 1850 and 1900 (Gallery 556, first floor). It is on loan from The Moldovan Family Collection.
The eight-branched Hanukkah Menorah commemorates an important moment in Jewish history: the triumphant Maccabean revolt against the oppressing Seleucid Empire and the re-consecration of the Jewish Holy Temple in 165 B.C. The lamp's eight branches commemorate the miracle in which the last jug of pure olive oil, which should have lasted only one day, kept the Temple Menorah alight for eight days. The inscription on the base reads: "With You is the fountain of life; by Your light do we see light" (Psalms 36:10).
Featured on the Museum's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History are two essays on Jewish art -- "Jewish Art in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium" and "Jews and the Arts in Medieval Europe" -- written by Barbara Drake Boehm and Melanie Holcomb, both of the Museum's Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters. The essays list relevant works in the Museum's collection, along with additional readings and resources. Both curators have participated in the Institute in Jewish Art, a program of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.