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Activity Idea: Standing Hanukkah Lamp (Quick Tip)

Use the following strategies with Standing Hanukkah Lamp to explore Jewish holidays and ritual.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish recapture and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. It’s celebrated for eight days and nights and usually falls in December. The traditional observances of Hanukkah include lighting a menorah,or ceremonial candelabra, spinning a top called a dreidel and eating foods cooked in oil, like latkes (potato pancakes) and doughnuts. Although Hanukkah is considered a “minor” Jewish festival, today it ranks—along with Passover and Purim—as one of the most beloved Jewish family holidays. It’s a happy festival in the winter, so it provides what seems to be a universally needed break from the dark and cold.


Close Looking / Visual Analysis:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you think this object is? How big do you think it is?
  • How is this Hanukkah lamp similar to others you have seen? How is it different?


For Further Discussion or Making:

  1. Candle-lighting is a primary ritual associated with Hanukkah.The Hanukkah lamp, called a menorah, has eight lights to commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah: when the Temple plundered by the Greeks was rededicated, there was only enough consecrated oil for the eternal flame in the Temple to burn for one day, but the oil burned for eight days until a fresh supply of consecrated oil could be obtained. During Hanukkah, one candle on the menorah  is lit on the first night of the holiday, and an additional candle (or oil container) is added each night until eight lights are burning in the Hanukkah lamp. Generally, an additional ‘helper’ flame, called the shamash, is lit on each night as well. Hanukkah lamps are not meant to provide light for utilitarian purposes but rather to make public the miracles of Hanukkah. Light is often used as a metaphor for other things (for example, knowledge, life, the Torah). What does light symbolize for you?
  2. Design your own Hanukkah lamp on paper or as a 3D piece. What materials would you use? The only requirements are that there must be spaces for 8 candles or containers for oil for each night of Hanukkah all on the same level and then one space for the 9th candle that is either above or separate from the other. The ninth candle is used to light the other candles.
  3. View other types of Hanukkah lamps from around the world in our collection here: Pick a country and design a Hanukkah lamp that you think they would use in that country. What symbols and styles did you choose and why?
  4. All Jewish Ceremonial art is made for a purpose. Create a work of art that you and your family can use to celebrate a holiday or special event .