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The Hanukkah menorah (Hebrew: מנורת חנוכה menorat ḥanukkah, pl. menorot) (also Hebrew: חַנֻכִּיָּה ḥanukkiyah, or chanukkiyah, pl. ḥanukkiyot/chanukkiyot, or Yiddish: חנוכּה לאמפּ khanike lomp, lit.: Hanukkah lamp) is, strictly speaking, a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, as opposed to the seven-branched menorah used in the ancient Temple or as a symbol. The ninth holder, called the shamash ("helper" or "servant"), is for a candle used to light all other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. To be kosher the shamash must be offset on a higher or lower plane than the main eight candles or oil lamps. There are differing opinions as to whether or not all the lights must be arranged in a straight line, or if the channukiah can be arranged in a curve. The menorah is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art. The seven-branched menorah is a traditional symbol of Judaism, along with the Star of David.
The menorah is often displayed in public around Hanukkah time December. Elected officials often participate in publicly lighting the menorah. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement is well associated with public lighting ceremonies, which it has done since a directive from their last Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in 1987. In the book A Kosher Christmas: 'Tis the Season to Be Jewish," (Rutgers University Press, 2012), author Rabbi Joshua Plaut, Ph.D. details the history of public displays of the menorah across the United States, summarizes the courts cases associated with this issue, and explains how the Presidents of the United States came to embrace lighting the menorah during Hanukkah (also see www.akosherchristmas.org).
Since 1979, the White House has been represented at the lighting of a national menorah in celebration of Hanukkah, beginning with the attendance of President Jimmy Carter in the ceremony in Lafayette Park. Additionally, beginning with President Bill Clinton in 1993, a Hanukkah menorah is lit at the White House, and in 2001, President George W. Bush began the annual tradition of a White House Hanukkah Party in the White House residence, which includes a menorah candle lighting ceremony.
In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom each year holds a menorah lighting at the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons, located in the Palace of Westminster. The menorah currently used was commissioned by the Rt. Hon. Michael J. Martin MP, then Speaker of the House of Commons. Martin is a Roman Catholic; his successor, John Bercow, is coincidentally the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Commons.
The world's largest non-Hanukkah 7-branched menorah is in Manado in Indonesia; a country with a Jewish population of around 20 people only. It stands at 62 feet tall. Two big menorahs are in New York City, each standing at 32 feet. One is at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, World's Largest Menorah and the other is lit at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan near Central Park. A 4,000-pound structure, it is the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. Because of the menorah's heights, Con Edison assists the lighting by using a crane to lift each person to the top.
In the United States, the public display of menorot and Christmas trees on public grounds has been the source of legal battles. Specifically, in the 1989 County of Allegheny v. ACLU case, the majority of the US Supreme Court ruled that the public display of menorot and Christmas trees did not violate the Establishment Clause because the two symbols were not endorsements of the Jewish or Christian faith, rather the two items are part of the same winter-holiday season, which the court found, had attained a secular status in U.S. society.
The lamp is most commonly called a "Hanukkah menorah," or simply "menorah" for short, whereas in Modern Hebrew it is exclusively called a chanukkiyah, and the Hebrew word menorah simply means "lamp". The term chanukkiyah was coined at the end of the nineteenth century in Jerusalem by the wife of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language.
Many museums have notable collections of Hanukkah menorot, including the Israel Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Jewish Museum, which owns the Lindo lamp. Outside of the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, there is a 5 meter high bronze menorah called the Knesset Menorah.
There's also a fairly impressive collection in the small Jewish Museum in Rio de Janeiro.
Modern menorot, menorot with less-traditional designs, are gaining in popularity with hundreds of new designs coming out since 2007.
To celebrate Thanksgivukkah in 2013, funds of over $48,000 to produce a turkey-shaped menorah, dubbed a "menurkey," were raised by a nine-year-old boy in Manhattan, New York, via a Kickstarter campaign.
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