Chagall's Menorahs (Chanukah)


The presence of God is represented almost universally in light and flame. Chanukah is a celebration of the miracle of the early temple's Eternal Flame continuing to burn for 8 days on only 1 day's supply of oil. Ergo, the Festival Of Lights. Strangely, the story of Chanukah does not appear in the Old Testament but instead in the post-Biblical Apocrypha (Book of Maccabees and in the New Testament (John:22-23). Jewish/Russian-born painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was one of the 20th century's preeminent artists, his brilliantly colorful work often suffused with the richness of Jewish history and ritual. The 7 candle menorah depicted in most of Chagall's work is the traditional one used year-round in the tabernacle, the 9 candle version used specifically to celebrate Chanukah, 8 for each day of the miracle plus the shamash, the "helper" that used to light the others. Music: A Chazandl Oyf Shabes (A Cantor For The Sabbath), popular cantorial tale that recounts the story of a cantor who sings for a tailor, a blacksmith and a wagon driver. Each of the three contrasts the cantor's skill with his own, declaring "Oh, how he did sing!" Recorded & performed by Jan Peerce, Al Jolson and others.

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The presence of God is represented almost universally in light and flame. Chanukah is a celebration of the miracle of the early temple's Eternal Flame continuing to burn for 8 days on only 1 day's supply of oil. Ergo, the Festival Of Lights. Strangely, the story of Chanukah does not appear in the Old Testament but instead in the post-Biblical Apocrypha (Book of Maccabees and in the New Testament (John:22-23).

Jewish/Russian-born painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was one of the 20th century's preeminent artists, his brilliantly colorful work often suffused with the richness of Jewish history and ritual. The 7 candle menorah depicted in most of Chagall's work is the traditional one used year-round in the tabernacle, the 9 candle version used specifically to celebrate Chanukah, 8 for each day of the miracle plus the shamash, the "helper" that used to light the others.

Music: A Chazandl Oyf Shabes (A Cantor For The Sabbath), popular cantorial tale that recounts the story of a cantor who sings for a tailor, a blacksmith and a wagon driver. Each of the three contrasts the cantor's skill with his own, declaring "Oh, how he did sing!" Recorded & performed by Jan Peerce, Al Jolson and others.
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