• Raizel Druxman

The Day the Menorah Won the Ultimate Prize

Updated: May 3

If someone showed you a picture of a menorah, what would your first thought be?

I’m going to guess the holiday of Hanukkah popped into your mind.

The Knesset's Menorah sculpture in Jerusalem
The Knesset's Menorah sculpture, Jerusalem, Israel

That’s what most people think of when they see a menorah. The original Menorah is the one that was used in the Temple. In Jewish tradition, the Menorah is a sign of light, connection, and unity.

In 1948, Israel had a design contest to find the right symbol for the new State and on February 2nd, 1949, Gabriel and Maxim Shamir, two brothers submitted the design that won the heart of the committee. The final design that we see on all Israeli documents today, the 7-branched menorah, flanked by two olive branches, includes the original entry from the Shamir brothers and elements from other submissions.

The design depicts the Menorah from the Arch of Titus and may also be based on the biblical prophet Zecharia’s vision that describes a menorah with olive trees on either side. Olive branches are also associated with peace in Jewish tradition and represent Israel’s will to live peacefully.

A stone carving of a menorah on a wall
Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum that is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people.

Given the powerful symbolism, the menorah is now on all official documents including the Israeli passport.

If we can take this symbol and live up to its full potential - now that would be the ultimate prize.