Brooklyn, New York
The menorah is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, symbol of Judaism and the Jewish people. Menorahs have been around since the time of the Exodus, and were probably used as an Israelite icon long before the Star of David. Essentially a seven-branched candelabrum, a menorah was first mentioned and fully described in chapter five of the Book of Exodus as one of the sacred items associated with the Tabernacle. A nine-brached variation has become the symbol of the Hanukkah holiday.
Menorahs have been around since time immemorial. In ancient times, the most famous menorah after the loss of the original one was the immense lampstead that was erected on the roof of the Second Temple. Its great moment in history came in the year 165 BC, when the Maccabean revolt recaptured Jerusalem and the Temple mount from the Seleucids. The Temple was reconsecrated with the rekindling of the great menorah, and the one-day’s worth of oil lasted for a miraculous eight, thus the Festival of Lights moniker.
Unfortunately, in the days following the failed Great Revolt against Rome, the Temple was destroyed in the 1st century and the menorah hauled away as loot as famously depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome. However, the use of menorahs in homes, both for the Sabbath and Hanukkah, had already become an entrenched tradition. In recent years the oldest nine-branched Hanukkah menorah ever discovered was unearthed in Jerusalem. The office of antiquities confirmed that it dated from the Second Temple era.
Afterwards it was acquired by the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn, which features a small but excellent collection of ancient Jewish artifacts. The menorah is now a popular exhibit piece, especially during the holidays. The museum is open Sundays through Fridays from 9:00am-6:00pm (early closing hours on Fridays) except on Jewish holidays. Admission prices were not available as of this writing. Web: www.torahmuseum.com (official museum website).