November 26, 2002 - January 5, 2003
Vélez Blanco Patio
An elaborately decorated 18th-century menorah – one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith – will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning November 26. This is the second consecutive year that the piece will be shown during the Hanukkah season. Dating to about 1771, the candelabrum is large in size (H. 60" W.41" D.19") and rich in ornament, indicating that it was intended for use in a synagogue. An inscription suggests that the synagogue was located in Eastern Europe, probably in Poland.
The menorah has been lent by the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection.
In conjunction with the installation, the Museum will offer a concert by the Andy Statman Trio in front of the menorah on Sunday, December 1, beginning at 7:00 p.m. In honor of Hanukkah, the program will highlight klezmer and Hasidic music dating from 18th-century Poland to the present. The trio consists of three artists: Andy Statman (clarinet and mandolin), Jim Whitney (bass), and Larry Eagle (percussion). Tickets are $50 each (unreserved seating) and are available by calling the Department of Concerts and Lectures at (212)570-3949.
The menorah is a special candleholder or lamp holder lighted by Jews during
the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, an ancient holiday commemorating the triumph of the Jews, under Judas Maccabeus, over Greek rule in 164 B.C.E., and celebrating Maccabeus's re-dedication of the defiled Holy Temple. Beginning the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the central feature of Hanukkah is the lighting of candles or oil lamps each evening, one on the first night, two on the second, and so on.
Though the military victory of Maccabeus is more emphasized today, the distinctive ceremony of lighting the menorah also recalls the Talmudic legend of how the small supply of non-desecrated oil – just enough for one day –miraculously burned for eight full days in the Temple until new oil could be obtained.
The menorah has eight receptacles for oil/candles and a further receptacle for the center light (the "shamas") used for kindling the other lights.
The installation is organized by Clare Vincent, Associate Curator of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.
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