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Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Patriotic Menora

Mark Urbin's photo, taken at the National Heritage Museum.  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, MA, is an American history museum founded and supported by the Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. I don't know its provenance.

The figures are standing upon a star-spangled surface, over layers of red, white, and blue.

In response to my inquiry, I received this from Ms. Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development at the Museum:

I believe this object was displayed in an exhibition called “American Visions of Liberty and Freedom” that was on view at the Museum from July-October 2006.  The Virginia Historical Society organized the exhibition.  The object is not part of our collection—from a photo caption in the book that accompanied the exhibition, the menorah appears to have been part of a private collection.  There is not much information about the object in the publication.  I can check the archives for the exhibition labels if you are curious to see if there is further information available.  Since the menorah is not in our collection, we don’t have any requests about crediting the photograph on your blog—but I appreciate your taking the time to ask!  If you are looking for a place to start for with a caption, the photograph in the publication (attached) notes the artist’s name, etc. 

 Ms. Stelling kindly attached a pdf of a book in which the menora is titled "Mother of Exiles" and attributed to Mae Rockland Tupa, 1995, from the collection of Marie L and Robert J. Cotton.

Ms. Rockland Tupa is a resident of Brookline, Massachusets.  If she's a neighbor, tell her you saw her menora on Havolim.

A reader directed me to a page at the Smithsonian Website, which has another expression of this concept.  Thank you, R' DL.
To me, and this point is made at that website, there is something particularly poignant in seeing this menora, which was made by a holocaust survivor that immigrated to the United States.  For a man like that, and for many others like him, the statue of liberty was a potent symbol; it embodied the spirit of a country that defeated the Nazis, and, unlike his neighbors in the old country who had murderously turned on him, welcomed him and enabled him to make a new life.  Some accuse United States citizens of the sin of "exceptionalism."  That accusation is nothing more than envy cloaked as criticism.

I am aware that some might see an incongruity in celebrating our victory over the Hellenists with a statue of the human form that reflects the Grecian aesthetic.  It doesn't bother me.  A symbol is what you make of it.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful Menorah! You can buy statue of liberty replicas here and make one of these, too.

You might want to paint them different colors for inclusiveness, as these are, or just leave them as they are!

Thanks for the post!

Shoshana said...

Here are some more, less expensive.

and several more are available here

Time to make some Menorahs!!

Anonymous said...

Combining religion and patriotism is not uncommon, but usually it's a display of a flag or the picture of the king in the synagogue, and it is intended to be a public statement that the Jews are loyal citizens. This use for private display is indeed unusual.

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