(JTA) — President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home was decorated with the likes of African elephant tusks, a hippo-foot inkwell and other hunting souvenirs. That’s not terribly surprising, considering the 26th president of the United States published three books on hunting.
But the average armchair historian might be surprised to learn that Roosevelt, of non-Jewish Dutch ancestry, also kept two menorahs at Sagamore Hill, his 95-acre estate on the North Shore of Long Island, New York.
Roosevelt was given the menorahs by Sarah Bancroft Leavitt, whom he addresses fondly in multiple letters. Roosevelt presumably appreciated Leavitt’s gesture, since at one point he kept the menorahs on a bookshelf in the front of the room.
Despite her name, Leavitt was not Jewish.
The menorahs she gifted to Roosevelt have seven branches — unlike the hanukiyah, the candelabra used on Hanukkah, which has nine (eight for the holiday’s number of days, plus the shamash to light the others). The seven-armed candelabras are still Jewish symbols and were used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.