Hanukkah is also known as festival of lights. The Hebrew word (also written in English as chanukah) means “dedication” and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple after a small group of Jewish believers (Maccabees) defeated their enemies. More at this link. A “hanukkiah” is basically a menorah with nine candle staff to distinguish it from the menorah’s seven. Why nine? that’s part of the miraculous story.
Back in October I took up a project that had been awaiting my attention. This scene was composed (credit due to imagery by R. Tanenbaum) by our associate rabbi and given to me; he indicated it can be used frequently in his web design work and would appreciate having it done “anyway you chose to.” Now that frees the creative process–so I went with a traditional approach using watercolor as I have become familiar with that.
the menorah … “is to be made of sixty-six pounds of pure gold. see that you make them according to the design being shown you on the mountain.” Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:39-40.
on one level the construction of the menorah is exact, and drawing an image of it is relatively easier than drawing light–for light is not static, it is a phenomena, its ethereal; it has an effect on what it shines on. hence when we realize that the Shekinah of G-d– represented as the menorah’s light– is present, we cannot avoid it having a profound effect on us.
since the time I took up the pen and brush again I have been drawn to the menorah as a subject, and studied the Torah for its description– mainly in Exodus 25, and Exodus 37. here is a concise entry of the menorah by Tracey R. Rich at Judaism 101.
I found it intriguing that the almond blossom is used to describe the bulbs and branches. (the almond staff of Aaron that budded a branch has great significance.) while there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem for the menorah to rest, one enduring purpose is to give light to man of the presence of Hashem throughout the world.