Hanukkah Lamp, made from the frontal plate of an Austrian army fur cap  

Austria, c. 1748
Impressed brass and tin, 23X20.6 CM

Anonymous donation

A Hanukkah lamp helmeted by a soldier in the Austrian army  

Austria, circa 1748

Inlaid brass and tin, 23x20.6 cm

An anonymous contribution

We have in our collection some very unusual Menorahs, none of which as unique as this one, which is made from a front  plate of an Austrian soldier's cap  made with the fur of a bear.  ​

In the center of the plate we see the double  headed eagle- the symbol of the Hapsburg  Empire which represents the United Roman Empire (east and west).  This symbol was used by many Royal houses in Europe with claims  to the title Holy Roman Emperor. On each side of the eagle we see the monogram of Friedrich I (1765-1740). In the lower part we see weapons, spears, canons and swords in between flames of fire.  

 

We do not know if this plate was a keepsake of a Jewish officer in the Austrian Army or the spoils of war. How and when this menorah ended up in Italy is also a question worth asking, but it is important to remember that Austria ruled parts of Northern Italy for many years till the mid 18th Century.   

One can only guess what meaning this depiction on a menorah  must have. Perhaps the heroism of the Jewish soldiers in the 18th and 19th centuries is compared here to that of the Hasmoneans that fought so bravely against the Greeks. 

The menorah collection in the museum has several examples of the use of various objects to create menorahs, but a menorah made of a soldier's helmet is certainly unusual. This menorah is made of a plaque from the front of an Austrian army soldier's hat from 1740-1780, which was made of fur or bear skin. The center of the plaque depicts the two-headed eagle - a symbol of its Roman Empire, an eastern part and a western part. This symbol was used by many aristocratic families in Europe, including the House of Habsburg - rulers of Austria. Next to the eagle appear the letters FI and MT which are the royal monogram of Frederick I (1765-1740). At the bottom of the plaque we see descriptions of spears, cannons, swords and flames of fire.

 

nothing  Information is certain whether it was a plaque of a Jewish soldier who served as an officer in the Austrian army, or a souvenir from the battlefield. Nor is her time of arrival in Italy  Certainly since these plates were in use until the middle of the 19th century, it is important to remember that parts of northern Italy were under Austrian control until the middle of the 18th century.

The descriptions on the plaque connect the heroism of the Jewish soldiers in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the heroism of the Hasmoneans, who fought against the Greeks. The lighting of this menorah emphasizes the miracle of the re-lighting of the menorah in the Temple, following the victory of the Maccabees.

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