Focus Questions

Does this object remind you of something you have seen before?

Which part of the object do you notice most?  Why did you notice that part?

How do you think this object was used?

Have you noticed...What First World War object this lamp is made from? Click to reveal answer

It is made from a brass shell case used in the First World War.

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Hanukah Lamp

Hanukah Lamp

Hanukah Lamp

This beautifully decorated Hanukah lamp was made in the 1920s

Hanukah Lamp
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The Object

Object name: Hanukah Lamp
Date: 1920s
Catalogue number: JM 273
Material(s): Brass
Size: 11cm in Height 128cm in Width and 13cm in Depth
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • This Hanukah lamp is full of Jewish imagery and symbols.
  • Look closely at the Hanukah lamp to find the Stars of David.  They are the bottom of every stalk.  In Hebrew this symbol is called the Magen David.  When you translate Magen David into English it actually means Shield of David.  The symbol comes from the story of David and Goliath, when David fought the giant Goliath he painted a star onto his shield.
  • Look closely to see the nine stalks attached to the stars of David.  These are the candle holders.  There are 8 candles to light at the festival of Hanukah so there are 8 candleholders and 1 extra candleholder which is for the ‘helper candle’.  You light the helper candle first then use this candle to light the others every night.
  • On the first night you light a helper candle and 1 candle and let them burn all he way down, on the second night you light a helper candle and 2 candles and let them burn all the way down and so on for the whole festival.  Can you work out how many candles you need for Hanukah?
  • The Hebrew writing behind the candle holders is a dedication to the man the gift was made for; Sir Herbert Samuel.  Above the larger Hebrew writing you can see smaller words engraved, these are blessings for the Hanukah lights.  Above each word a hanging oil lamp is engraved which reminds us of the story of Hanukah when the oil lasted 8 nights.
photo showing the reverse of the hanukah lamp

The reverse side of the Hanukah Lamp


The Story

The Hanukah Lamp
The Hanukah lamp was made as a gift to Sir Herbert Samuel, the first British High Commissioner of Palestine 1920 – 1925.  It is not known who made the Hanukah lamp.

We call this type of art ‘Trench Art’ as pieces like this were often made in the trenches by soldiers who used materials they had available including used shell cases.  This shell case has been beautifully engraved and inscribed and was done after the war had ended as a gift.  

The Festival
Hanukah is the festival of lights.  The story of Hanukah is when the Greeks took the Temple in Jerusalem away from the Jewish people and used it to worship the Greek Gods.  When the Temple was taken back by the Jewish people they had to cleanse it because the Greeks worshipped their Gods by sacrificing pigs which is not allowed in Judaism.  In order to cleanse the temple the Jewish people decided to burn ritual oil for 8 nights however there was only enough for one.  Miraculously that small amount of oil lasted the whole 8 nights and that is what the Hanukah lamp celebrates.

There are many activities that Jewish people celebrate at Hanukah.  You light the Hanukah lamp every night, and give each other presents, you play spinning the dreidel and eat foods fried in oil.

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF about how to play Dreidel.