Unique loan to Jewish Historical Museum from Royal Collections  1 November 2012

Chanukah lamp

Chanukah lamp, silver, made in 1751 by Harmanus Nieuwenhuys (1711-1763), collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, on long-term loan from the Historic Collections Trust of the House of Orange-Nassau.On 23 October 2012, His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange attended the celebration of the Jewish Historical Museum's eightieth anniversary and the launch of the Jewish Cultural Quarter. In recognition of the anniversary and the launch, the Historic Collections Trust of the House of Orange-Nassau has placed a unique silver Chanukah lamp on long-term loan to the Jewish Historical Museum. This new acquisition is now on display at the museum.

The Chanukah lamp was made in 1751 by the Amsterdam silversmith Harmanus Nieuwenhuys (1711-1763) and purchased at an auction by Queen Wilhelmina in 1907 as a present for her mother Queen Emma.

In the Jewish tradition, this type of lamp is used at Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, a celebration commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 165 CE. After the Maccabees defeated their Syrian oppressors, they wanted to re-dedicate the desecrated temple by lighting a menorah, a seven-branched oil lamp. They found only enough pure oil for one day, but then a miracle took place: the lamp burned for eight days. Jews celebrate for eight days in memory of this miracle.

The silver lamp is in the rococo style and has eight oil lamps. Each day of the Chanukah festival, an additional lamp is lit. In the Netherlands, this variety of lamp, the 'bench type' with a mirror monogram on the panel - the identity of the family is unknown in this case- was used mainly by Portuguese Jews. Ashkenazi Jews typically use candles. With its lavish rococo decorations, this Chanukah lamp from the royal collections is a magnificent and valuable addition to the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum.