Hanukkah Lamp with Spruces
Italy, 18th century
Silver stamped, repossessed and chased, 20.5X26.5 cm
Gift of Maria Hefez Todesco, Florence.
Hanukkah lamp with cypresses
Italy, 18th century
Silver stamped, stamped and engraved, 20.5x26.5 cm
Gift of Maria Hefetz Todsky, Florence.
What happens to an object that passes, not only from one generation to another, but also between families? This Menorah was designed as a standing lamp- as was done by Ashkenazim. Some time afterwards, someone added a hanging ring in the manner most common with Sfaradim. This Menorah represents the diversity of the Jewish community in Italy that has three main groups- Ashkenazim, Sfaradim and Italkim (Italians). Each group had its style and its traditions but thought the years, they interacted with one another and influenced each other.
In the middle of this Menorah we have a shield with three trees in it. The middle tree which is taller, is surrounded with three stars. The letter "Aleph" is represented twice. The ground is also decorated with different plans.
Some researchers believe that this is in fact a family symbol of the family which first ordered this Menorah. This idea makes sense as family crest or symbols were very common among Jewish families in Italy. Examples of this phenomenon are usually found on silver covers for prayer books and on Ketubot (marriage contracts) . U. Nachon and David Cassuto claimed that the original owner was Avraham Ashkenazi. Or in Italian Alberto Todoscho. Others claim that the attention given to the detail in the depiction on the shield suggests that this is an actual view since family crest are usually simpler and more schematic.
What happens to an object that passes from hand to hand, not only between family members, but also between different families? This Hanukkah lamp was designed as a standing menorah - as is common among Ashkenazi families. Later a hanger was added to the rear - as was customary with Spanish families. This menorah represents the three main groups in Italian Jewry - Sephardim, Ashkenazim and Italians. Each such group has its own characteristics but these mixed with each other and influenced and inspired each other.
In the center of the front panel of the menorah, surrounded by plant depictions, there is a large shield with a depiction of a landscape with three tall cypresses. Around the middle cypress, which is the highest, three stars. Two letters "A" appear on either side of the trees. Small plants are depicted on the ground.
Some scholars believe that this image is actually a symbol of the family that ordered this menorah and were its first owners. This is a very reasonable assumption since family symbols are a common phenomenon among Italian Jews and many examples can be found in inscriptions, prayer book covers, and other personal belongings. Shlomo Umberto is correct and David Cassuto claimed that the name of the father of the family who owned this lamp was Avraham Ashkenazi, or in Italian Alberto Tudesko.
However, the much attention given to details in the landscape, such as cows on the tree, small plants on the ground, a path that gives a sense of depth, separation of heaven and earth, can attest to a description of a real landscape, since symbolic Families are most often characterized by a schematic description.