The Norman Transcript

Religion

December 14, 2012

Menorah collections display faith, family ties

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the shelves in the gift shop of Maitland, Fla.,’s Ohev Shalom synagogue are menorahs made of metal, hand-painted ceramic, wire and glass, including some that look like circus tents and toy trains. There are dreidels as large as cookie jars and as small as a pair of dice.

Some of the menorahs are functional, capable of being lighted to celebrate Hanukkah. Some of the dreidels — four-sided tops — will be used during Hanukkah by children playing a traditional game using foil-wrapped chocolate coins as currency.

But other pieces will be added to collections as art and decoration, joining those that have been handed down through generations as family heirlooms.

“They aren’t just religious. They are pieces of art and part of your religious heritage you can pass down to your children,” said Maureen Perlstein, who keeps a small collection of souvenir and gifted menorahs in her Casselberry home.

The collections of menorahs and dreidels are on display in many Jewish homes. Two tables set up in the living room of Barry and Penny Gold’s home display her collection of 31 menorahs.

The Lake Mary, Fla., couple began collecting menorahs when they married 41 years ago. Included in the collection is the simple metal menorah used by Barry’s grandmother and passed down through the generations.

Back when his grandmother bought the piece in Brooklyn, menorahs were purchased at a hardware store like a hammer or a saw. And every family owned just one.

“It’s not like it is now. You had one menorah in the home and you used it over and over,” said Barry, 64.

There were no menorah collections because there was nothing to collect, said Penny Gold. Now, there are thousands to choose from through online stores, shops that specialize in Judaica and even places like T.J. Maxx.

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