This Hanukkah lamp from Tetuán in northern Morocco bears a depiction of the menorah on the center of the back plate, between two twisted columns, each surmounted by a decorative bird. The biblical inscriptions were believed to endow the lamp with the power to protect the home. But along with the decorative elements, they reveal a connection between the craftsmen and the Jewish professional scribes who illustrated marriage contracts (ketubbot) and various types of plaques for the home or synagogue, using similar patterns. Tetuán was a thriving center of Torah study and Jewish learning for centuries. Its Jewish population consisted of descendants of Jews expelled from Spain, as well as Jews from other Moroccan cities and from Livorno in Italy.
Benjamin, Chaya, North African Lights, Hanukkah Lamps from the Zeyde Schulman Collection in the Israel Museum, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2003, English / Hebrew