Celebrating special menorahs with a unique history.
Hanukkah is coming! Time to whip out our menorahs or run to your local Judaic shop for a shiny new one.
While some of us prefer electric menorahs in the window for all to see, others take the more traditional route—real fire-burning candles on a brass or silver menorah, perhaps covered in wax from years prior.
I don’t know about you, but I have never owned more than three menorahs; the first being an electric one I used in college (no candles allowed in dorms unless you want to get written up and take a fire-safety seminar on top of your regular course work). The second was a gift given to my husband and me for our engagement, and the third one my husband has been using for many years.
To me, three sounds like a decent number… but how about 119?! Yes, that’s right. A collector, right in the heart of New Jersey has a collection of over 100 Hanukkah menorahs and lamps from all over the world, some going back 500 years. They each have unique stories and designs.
This collector is Dr. Aaron Feingold.
You might be wondering, what does one person do with over 100 menorahs?! Well, lucky for us, Dr. Feingold has donated them to a couple of museums. A large majority of his collection, roughly 89 pieces, can be found at The Museum at Eldridge Street in Manhattan.
When asked, Dr. Feingold said one of his favorite menorahs is a “silver lamp” with an 1893 dedication on it; this lamp originally belonged to a synagogue in Germany that was later destroyed during Kristallnacht. Dr. Feingold has ambitions of returning it to its homeland someday.
If The Museum at Eldridge Street is a bit out of your way, you can find the rest of Dr. Feingold’s collection, approximately 30 pieces, in the lobby museum at the Central New Jersey Jewish Nursing Home in Somerset, New Jersey. This collection includes a lamp made in Israel from bullets! Dr. Feingold even gives a presentation here about his menorahs every Hanukkah–or you can visit the museum any time!
P.S. If you visit the collections and wonder why it says Aharon Ben Zalman is the owner of the pieces, that’s because Dr. Feingold decided to use his Hebrew name on the plaque!
Dr. Jacqueline Roberman-Glyn is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.