Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah or Chanukah also known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem. This year the festival starts tomorrow, December 16 and ends on December 24th. The festival is observed by the lighting of candles in a unique candle holder, called a menorah. The typical menorah consists of eight branches, one for each day of the festival, with an additional visually distinct branch. The extra light is called a shamash and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicizing and meditating upon Hanukkah is forbidden. Many families exchange gifts each night, such as books or games and "Hanukkah Gelt" is often given to children. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. I may not be an expert in making doughnuts or latke, but I love the challenge of creating something new that is sure to be treasured by the recipient of such a gift. One traditional Jewish item that I have made in the past is something that every Jewish home must have. A mezuzah, it's a piece of parchment (often contained in a decorative
case) inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah. The parchment must be prepared by a qualified scribe who has undergone many years of meticulous training. The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case. As you may have guessed I'm not qualified to prepare the holy Jewish prayer of Shema Yisrael, but I'm certainly qualified to build an ornate case to keep it in. This one, I carved from a block of wax and cast into sterling silver. The theme for this mezuzah was the family tree, or tree of life. I set each family members birthstone in place of leaves on the tree to ensure that they new it was custom made just for them. So don't forget to think outside the box this Hanukkah season, just because I'm a "jeweller" or "goldsmith" doesn't mean that I'm limited to making jewellery or objects made from gold....