The Chanukah Window
The festival of Chanukah, “dedication”, celebrates events which took place more than two millennia ago, when the Syrian Greeks ruled over Judea and paganised the Temple in Jerusalem. A small group led by the Maccabees expelled the Greeks, restored the Temple and performed a ceremony to “rededication”.
According to later tradition, Chanukah also celebrates a miracle which took place at that ceremony: a single days supply of oil for the Menorah lasted eight days. The Chanukah miracle in the spiritual sense is a celebration of Jewish survival. Over the eight days of the festival, as successive candles are lit by the “servant candle” until all eight flames are burning, the light of survival grows brighter and brighter. The Chanukah lamp is placed in the window for the world to witness this act of commitment.
The Chanukah lamp is decorated with fruit and leaves which hint at its origins as a “tree of life”. The panel moves from metallic darkness on the right to enlightenment glass on the left, alluding to the increased light which takes place over eight days of the festival. The flames are shaped as hands, which remind us that it is by our acts that faith is kept alive. Across the sky are inscribed the words, “a great miracle happened there”, the first letters of the four words found on the sides of the spinning top, or “dreidl”, used to entertain the children during Chanukah.