Exploring Traditions through a Jewelry Making Experience

I’m not Jewish, that I know of, although my Northern European ancestors were hustled about as if they were and my girlfriend, the professional genealogist, says it is a possibility but I doubt it. I’ve had quite a few Jewish friends over the years of various intensities of orthodoxy, but haven’t really deeply studied the culture.

Our friend, David, seems to be getting back to his roots and a part of that is celebrating Hanukkah with his wife, siblings and children who are interested. We are his family jewelers; I love the role and enjoy serving his family. David came to us with a pot metal, gold plated, ornamental brooch with rhinestones and 9 candle holders that looked to be a menorah. A menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem of the modern state of Israel. To me it has always been just a beautiful candelabra!

In Exodus 25: 31-40 Moses is instructed by the Lord on how to build a Menorah and he’s told, “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Pretty explicit directions there and very fancy too. Our dear Jewish friend, Barbara, happened to stop by the Studio and saw what we were working on and I called it a Menorah. She said, “It’s called a Hanukkiyah, because it has 9 candle holders and is explicitly used during Hanukkah.” So I did a bit of googling and found lots of information about this type of menorah. “A hanukkiyah is a candelabrum with eight candleholders in a row and a ninth candleholder set a little above the others. It’s different from a menorah, which has seven branches and was used in the Temple before it was destroyed in 70 CE. A hanukkiyah is nevertheless a kind of menorah.

The hanukkiyah is used during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and commemorates the miracle of the oil. According to the Hanukkah story, once Jewish revolutionaries had retaken the Temple from the Syrians they wanted to rededicate it to God and restore its ritual purity. Eight days’ worth of oil were needed to complete the ritual purification, but they were only able to find one day’s worth of oil. They lit the menorah anyway and miraculously the oil lasted for eight full days.

In commemoration of this event Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and a candle is lit on the hanukkiyah on each of those days. One candle is lit the first night, two the second, and so on, until the final night when all the candles are lit. Each of the eight candles is lit with a “helper” candle known as the shamash. The shamash is lit first, is used to light the other candles, and then is returned to the ninth candle spot, which is set apart from the others.” I found this on judaism.about.com.

David wanted this menorah reproduced in recycled family gold, so we ordered 9 marquise Sapphires from our stone supplier and crowns to fit them and I proceeded to make a mold of the costume piece that he had found. We shot a wax in the mold and then altered the wax to look “better”. Owen then invested the wax and lost wax cast it with the Recycled family 14kt Yellow Gold. Followed by finishing the Hanukkiyah by sandblasting and polishing then soldering on the crowns and setting the 9 marquise Sapphires. Dave wanted this to be a surprise for his sweetheart wife, Jennifer, as a Hanukkah Gift so we had to be sneaky!

The whole experience was very much fun for us; not only did we get to be part of this gifting, but we got to learn and view a Jewish family tradition and learn more about their faith and its roots. We love our job! Thank you, David.

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