\"Jewish

Jewish Hanukkah menorah a favorite in Irish households at Christmas - go figure. Photo by: Thinkstock

Surprisingly, the Jewish Hanukkah menorah now a favorite Irish Christmas tradition

\"Jewish

Jewish Hanukkah menorah a favorite in Irish households at Christmas - go figure. Photo by: Thinkstock

Finding Jewish people in Ireland is not an easy task. Of Ireland’s 4.4 million people, only 2,000 or so are Jewish.

But finding a menorah, the eight branched candle that celebrates the eight nights of Hanukkah – that’s a cinch.

For some reason, already lost in time and space, thousands of rural Irish homes have unwittingly adopted this famous candelabrum to celebrate – of all things – Christmas. It’s a festival of lights for sure, but somehow the Irish have followed them in an intriguingly new direction.

It was during the mid 1990s that the Irish craze for menorahs, one of the most enduring symbols of the Jewish faith and Israel, took off. Doubtless some enterprising Irish salesman with a hard neck or thing for irony brought them to the High Street where they were instantly snapped up.

Driving west from Dublin to Galway in December you can count them by the hundred now, shining out from the polished windows of Irish living rooms. Some feature candles, some electric lights, and all seem designed to perplex or mystify their Jewish neighbors who must shake their heads in wonder at the sight.

Irish Jews, it seems certain, will probably not respond to this accidental appropriation by putting up Christmas trees. Many Rabbis feel that a Christmas tree in a Jewish home, even one decorated with miniature dreidels, blurs the line in unproductive ways.

But Malcolm Lewis, President of the Progressive Jewish Congregation in Dublin, told IrishCentral that he wasn’t concerned.

“Mary McAleese always put a menorah in the window of Aras an Uachtarain, the President’s mansion, whenever Hanukkah arrived,” he said. “She also lit an advent candle as well.”

The symbolism of dispelling darkness with light transcends every faith and culture and Lewis is philosophical about the issue. 

“Around about Christmas time you will see six or seven branch candles as decoration, call them what you will, but I don’t know if there’s any real significance to it or not. Maybe they just like the shape of it. If that’s the reason, well that’s very nice.

“And don’t forget that Waterford Crystal (the famous Irish glass making company) makes a glass menorah. They run for about 700 to 800 dollars, and so very few people have bought them I would imagine.”

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: