Crowds of schoolchildren and tourists are converging on an unusual exhibit of menorahs in Tel Aviv, amassed by two collectors over forty-six years of menorah obsession. The exhibit is named after a famous Hannukah song popular with children titled Chanukiyah li yesh, or “I have a menorah.”
When they married in 1959, Drora and Pinchas Zakai received a menorah as a wedding-gift. That kicked off a lifelong passion for menorahs, and sixty menorahs from the Zakai collection are on display through the end of December at the Nahum Guttman Museum in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood.
The exhibit spans several centuries and continents, and includes many elaborate examples of menorahs from both Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions; the origins of menorahs range from the Ukraine to Fez, Morocco.
Highlights of the exhibit include travel menorahs, which were used by Jews who found themselves on the road in 19th-century Europe; the small menorahs were both beautiful and portable. There are also several special children’s menorahs; the tradition of a menorah for each child originated in the Diaspora, and made its way to Israel.
The Zakais liked to invite their grandchildren and their classmates to visit their home and see all the menorahs during Hannukah. Their daughter, Dr. Yael Almog Zakai, approached the museum with the purpose of continuing that tradition by sharing her late parents’ menorah collection with a wide audience during Hannukah.
The Nahum Gutman Museum displays the work of Nahum Gutman, who was one of Israel’s premier illustrators and was especially well-known for his illustrations of children’s books.
The exhibit is open through the end of December, and some of the menorahs can be seen on the museum’s website. For information on visiting hours, go to the museum’s website