Hanukkah donated to the Jewish History Museum

The story of the holiday of Hanukkah – which is celebrated as a sign of victory over the Hellenistic conquerors led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the re-consecration of the Jerusalem temple – is not mentioned anywhere in the Torah, but in the First and Second Books of Maccabees. Therefore, Hanukkah cannot be compared to holidays such as Yom Kippur, Pesach and Rosh Hashanah in terms of religiosity. Historically, Jews have not paid much attention to this holiday. However, if you ask how Hanukkah is celebrated today, almost every Jew will immediately answer with a letter that it is obligatory to light candles on Hanukkah (eight-legged menorah) all eight days of the holiday, sing the song Maoz cur yeshuati, consume food fried in oil (latkes and sufganijot / burmuelos), playing with a tern (sevivon / dreidel) and giving gifts to children. All of the above, except the last one, can be related to the holiday. But, the practice of giving for Hanukkah is not entirely unknown in the Jewish tradition. In Poland in the 17th century, the custom of giving money (Hanukkah gelt) to the poor arose, not as alms, but as an act of mercy (cedak), so that they, if they could not, buy candles for the holiday and celebrate it with dignity. There were no other gifts. Somewhat later, the children began to receive small coins for the holiday, which was primarily a symbol of the first coins minted in the new, free country of the Hashmonians, and only then a means of purchase. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that American Jews began to give Hanukkah packages to their children, similar to those that Christian children received for Christmas. Thus, the excessive commercialization of Hanukkah quickly began, not only on the American continent, but also in Europe, and even in Israel itself. On the sixth day of Hanukkah, the Jewish History Museum received two, for art collection, exceptional gifts. The donors, our painter Mirjana Lehner Dragić and the former president of the Jewish community of Belgrade, Dr. Raka Levi, made us very happy. From Mira, as we all call her in the community, we received a work entitled “Remembering Toni Azriel”. The painting, made with a combined technique (watercolor and acrylic) and created in 1987 as part of the cycle “My Aunt Erne’s Lace”, is a portrait of the first president of the Belgrade Jewish Women’s Society, founded in Sephardic Jalia in 1874. The theme of emancipation and importance in the first half of the 20th century in the patriarchal environment as Belgrade was then, it is not uncommon in the artistic work of Mirjana Lehner Dragić. We remind you that our Museum in 2014, on the occasion of celebrating the 140th anniversary of the Women’s Section of the Jewish Community of Belgrade, also received the work “Memory” from Mira. This gift is not only valuable as a work of art, but also a historical testimony to the existence of exceptional women in the pre-war Belgrade Jewish community such as Neti Munk, Pauline Lebl Albala and Jelena Demajo. Another gift we received was a sculpture by the famous sculptor Nandor Glid. Glid had his own art studio in the same space for many years. Many important works of the artist were created there, including a memorial to the victims of the Dachau camp. Nandor Glid gained world fame primarily as the author of anti-fascist monuments, but his portrait sculpture and human figure are no less important in the history of art. He sculpted portraits and busts of his friends from the Jewish community in various formats – Mala Rada (author Radmila Petrović), Dr. Albert Weiss, Dr. Marko Alkalaj, Dr. Zoran Levetal, Dr. Hink Lederer, Dr. Solomon Adanju, Perer Family. As a reminder, until his death in 1997, Professor Glid devotedly participated in the work of the Jewish Historical Museum as one of the members of the Museum Commission. Gifts were received on behalf of the Museum by Radmila Petrović, President of the Museum Commission, Vojislava Radovanović, director of the Jewish History Museum, and Barbara Panic, curator. We would like to thank Miri Lehner Dragić and Raki Levi once again for entrusting these valuable works of art to our Museum.