Again, in no particular order.
Since I talked about my menorah last time, I’ll talk about our menorah this time.
Before we got getting married, we did a lot of running all around Jerusalem. I don’t remember now if this particular run was associated with regular food shopping in the shuk, Machane Yehuda, or we were going to get something else. But again, like the kiddush cup and like our Finnish stoneware, we both did a double-take when we passed the window of an unlikely store for such items. It was in an area that is more upscale now, but at that time, was pretty much just for finding hardware and electrical tchotchkes. But around Hanukkah in Israel, everything becomes about Hanukkah. Well, everything except for where it isn’t. But I’m not getting political here. It’s that Hanukkah is as ubiquitous as Christmas is here, pretty much severed from religious connections in general, and so all the items, like the menorahs and the sufganiyot (doughnuts) and other fried foods are all over the place.
So it wasn’t really surprising that a hardware store of sorts would have a menorah.
Except it probably was a Judaica/antique store of some sort, somewhere on Agrippas Street, perhaps. Clear memory eludes me now.
I do remember our discussion with the shopkeeper, for sure.
We were moved by the menorah. This again is the unknown, why something of beauty strikes a chord in you. But we both were attracted to it and then the shopkeeper started up with his shpiel.
I’m freely translating from my memory (and from the Hebrew).
“You like it, yes? It is one of a kind, and very old. It is from the time of the Marranos, when they had to pretend they weren’t Jewish and so they would twist the arms of the menorah around to look like a candelabra.”
Actually, I’m sure that he didn’t use that word, but he showed us how to swivel the arms in all different directions.
We were also intrigued since we were thinking ahead of how to pack it up to bring it back to the states after our stay in Israel. It could come apart, pack somewhat easily, and be put together somewhat easily, too! In those days, remember, you didn’t have to worry about weight.
Terror, yes, but not weight.
So we bought the menorah and were happy to light it that year and since then, except when we have traveled over the holiday. It’s not really easy to transport now, but that’s okay.
When my parents came to Israel in advance of our wedding, they were also taken by the menorah and asked us where we got it. And we repeated the story, saying that the shopkeeper said it was unique. So we weren’t sure if he had others. But hey! Why not ask?
So we told them where to go–I don’t remember going back there with them. And you can guess what happened next. They came home with a menorah. Maybe it wasn’t exactly like ours, but.
No, it’s exactly like it.
Except it’s cleaner.
Maybe I’ll take another photo of it by itself soon.
I could also add that when we did come back to America and I started teaching in a Hebrew School somewhere in Connecticut (I really don’t remember the town), when I walked into the rabbi’s office, guess what he had there?