“When someone interprets, when someone sees the world through his own eyes. Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it. If an exciting new way of seeing an old object results, well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? That’s the beginning of serious art. Here, let me show you what I mean. ” (Chaim Potok, The Gift of Asher Lev)
These words by Potok poetically introduce the Museum of Lights in Casale Monferrato, a collection and permanent exhibition unique in Italy and the world. The museum, built where the mikveh (purification bath) probably stood and where the ancient unleavened bread oven can still be seen, was created in the 2000s and features a rich display of hanukkiot. The hanukkiah is the candelabrum that is lit every year during the Festival of Hanukkah or Festival of Lights, made up of eight lights plus a ninth – the shammash, the “servant” – which must look differently from the others, being placed higher or lower and, in any case, out of alignment.
Artists, architects, and designers, especially after the Holocaust, as if to grasp the universal value of rebirth in light, created their own hanukkiah: a liturgical object, useful for synagogue rituals, but also a domestic one since it can be lit at home, with a substantial symbolic and aesthetic value. The Museum of Lights houses more than 250 hanukkiot . Every piece tells a tale, transforming ordinary objects into captivating artifacts when viewed through the lens of art. This one-of-a-kind collection is constantly evolving, making it genuinely unparalleled on a global scale .
Thanks to the Museum of Lights and the annual donation of new hanukkiot, in Casale Monferrato the festival of Hanukkah is celebrated every year with creative and spiritual force, contaminating itself with the most varied artistic expressions and open to ecumenical dialogue with other religions in an appointment that is strongly felt at city level.