Memorable menorahs

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editor’s note: Ask, and ye shall receive.
“Do you collect menorahs?” When we posed this question, we got a large response. Some people’s collections amounted to just one menorah — but a very special one at that, while others had many more. Here are some of our readers’ stories.

Hand-carved in Palau

by helen mehoudar

We have an unusual wooden menorah — hand-carved for us a few years ago, a gift from friends in Palau, Micronesia.

When we first went to Palau, we were delighted to find an Israeli family living there. It was Chanukah, and they lent us their chanukiah. It was beautiful.

The next time we were in Palau, we were pleased to see the family again, and they invited us to Shabbat dinner. Afterwards, as we sat shmoozing over tea, the host asked my husband which kibbutz he came from. When my husband told him, our host said that his best friend came from that kibbutz, and gave his name. I sat stunned for a moment before answering, “He’s my cousin.”

The following year, shortly before Chanukah, a menorah arrived on our doorstep. It was made in the Palauan tradition of carved storyboards. Its dark wood is wonderfully illuminated and warm with candles lit.

The writer lives in Berkeley.

Of mixed media

by sylvia berman

My husband, a talented artist, designed and built our collection of chanukiot. Most of them are still in Israel, where we lived for 20 years and raised our four children.

One of the most special is made from spent bullet shells from the Yom Kippur War. My husband was in the Sinai, collected the shells and embedded them into olive wood. We still use this chanukiah.

Another is a series of plumbing fittings on maple wood. There’s one of stained glass shapes, framed with brass fittings, with glass holders for wicks and oil, and colors that seem to dance when lit.

In another, narrow slabs of Jerusalem stone hold candles that drip with ageless forms. It has never been cleaned.

A clear-glass house is encased in copper: The first story holds the eight candles, the second, the shamash, with a chimney for the smoke. This is lit outdoors for all to see.

The writer lives in Palo Alto.

‘Easy-Lighting’ style

by illana zauderer parker

We have a great little collection of menorahs, made of glass, brass, silver — but we have one extremely unique piece: My husband, Aaron, who is 30, invented and patented a chanukiah when he was 19.

A student at UCLA at the time, he created an “Easy-Lighting Menorah” that allows a person to light every candle from the shamash without taking the shamash off the menorah. This eliminates the “ouch!” that happens when you’re trying to light a candle as the shamash drips wax on you!

The key is a rotating aluminum arm, which allows the movement. Aaron was a music and psychology major, but he designed the engineering of the chanukiah by himself, and made plans for the machine shop to have it produced. It was sold that season at Hammacher Schlemmer, a high-end gadget store in Beverly Hills.

Soon after, Aaron moved to the Bay Area, along with the remaining stock (we still have about 60 of them). I guess that means that those people who did buy it have a limited edition!

We’re expecting our first child in February, and we plan to use several from our collection of menorahs, including the one our baby’s abba (father) invented!

The writer lives in Sausalito.

Sentimental value

by terry naylor friedkin

I have a small menorah that my mother, Jill Shulster, gave me. Many years later she told me that this was the menorah that my grandmother packed into her suitcase when she fled Germany in 1939 for Israel on a ship full of young people emigrating without their parents. She was 16 years old at the time.

My mother, who lived in Orinda and then Rossmoor, passed away last year.

This menorah has sentimental meaning

for us.

The writer lives in Berkeley

In honor of statehood

by cheryl cohen

I have what I believe is a very special menorah. My bubbe, Aneta Viesman Katz, the president of Pioneer Women in Philadelphia in 1958, went to Israel and brought back a menorah that was created in celebration of the 10th year of Israel being a state. It has the years 1948-1958 on the branches and there are circles on which there are etchings of symbols and names of cities in Israel. The candleholders each sit on top of a circle.

My bubbe returned from her trip one week before I was born, on Rosh Hashanah 1958, and upon her death in 1975, I was given the chanukiah. I use it proudly each year.

The writer lives in Pleasanton.