The Kindling of the Menorah
This postcard, which was originally created to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, shows an image that is more relevant to the festival of Chanukah. The picture portrays the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) in the Temple, dressed in his unique clothing: white clothes, a special turban and belt, and most significantly, the choshen, the special plate containing twelve precious stones, one for each of the tribes. The High Priest is lighting the Menorah, while other priests are watching in the background. Many of the other priests, recognisable by their clothes and belts, are carrying spears and shields, signifying that they have just returned from the battlefield. . It is interesting to note the remarkably accurate portrayal of the clothing worn by the kohanim and the Kohen Gadol.
This card includes the words “A Good Year” (לשנה טובה) and also the words “The Festival of the Hasmoneans”(חג החשמונאים), possibly implying that without the Hasmoneans, no Jewish celebrations would have been possible.
Although the date of the publication of this postcard is unknown, it is noteworthy for two main reasons. First, the image recalls the story of Chanukah and the fact that Jews could not worship in the Temple when the Greeks were in control of Jerusalem. In the postcard, there are several warrior priests who may have even come straight from the battle field to witness the rededication of the Temple.
Second, it is interesting, and perhaps rather odd, that a New Year greetings card is depicting a completely different Jewish festival which takes place months later. The printing of such postcards with New Year greetings and illustrations of Jewish themes from the different festivals can be seen in other Shana Tova cards in the National Library of Israel collections, which have Chanukah, Purim, and even Pesach themes as part of their designs.
Connection to Parashat Tetzaveh
Parashat Tezaveh contains the complicated instructions concerning the unique clothing worn by the priests (kohanim) in the Temple. In addition to the four garments worn by all priests – breeches, tunic, sash, and turban –the High Priest also wore a robe, an apron, a breastplate, and a golden plate attached to his turban. Although all the priests wore turbans, these were cone-shaped unlike the High Priest’s turban which was round. All these clothing details are evident in this resource.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this postcard to discuss the Temple and the role of the High Priest as well as the story of Chanukah.
Jewish History teachers can use this postcard to explore the final part of the Chanukah story, namely, the rededication of the Temple after the war had been won.
Describe what you can see in this postcard.
Who is the central figure in this postcard?
What are many of the people in the background holding?
What historical event is being commemorated in this drawing?
Where is this event taking place?
What text appears on the postcard?
For what occasion was this postcard created?
Reading Between the Lines
Where was the Menorah placed within the Temple?
Why has the artist chosen to change its location in this drawing?
Why is Chanukah referred to as Festival of the Hasmoneans חג החשמונאים in the drawing?
Why did the illustrator choose to use this image to represent Chanukah?
Why do you think that this Chanukah themed image appears on a Shana Tova card?
Chanukah is one of the most popular festivals in Judaism. Why do you think this is the case?
How does your family celebrate Chanukah?
Which aspects of the festival do you focus on?
Create a Facebook post from one of the Maccabean leaders at the time of the victory.