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Jewish Museum Opens A Hanukkah Project: Daniel Libeskind Line of Fire

The Jewish Museum will present A Hanukkah Project: Daniel Libeskind’s Line of Fire from November 19, 2010 through January 30, 2011. Daniel Libeskind, an international figure in architecture and urban design, has created a bold and dramatic installation featuring 40 Hanukkah lamps from the Museum’s renowned collection.

Focused on the central ritual of Hanukkah – the kindling of flames in commemoration of an ancient victory for religious freedom – Libeskind’s design interprets Hanukkah through an evocative metaphor for the spiritual power of fire. The Line of Fire, a jagged structure in brilliant red that diagonally bisects the gallery, serves as a pedestal for the Hanukkah lamps, and symbolizes the flames of the lamps lit on the holiday. The irregular lines and angles of the Line of Fire are a recurring feature in Libeskind’s work, where they often signify the continuity of Jewish existence through sudden changes in circumstances, some of them catastrophic. A Hanukkah Project: Daniel Libeskind’s Line of Fire also includes five quotations by poets and philosophers such as Emily Dickinson and Jacques Derrida.

The selection of Hanukkah lamps exemplifies the diversity of the Museum’s collection, from an 18th century work made from the helmet shield of a Hessian soldier who fought in the American Revolution, to a 19th century East European silver menorah that was lit by President George W. Bush at the White House, to Karim Rashid’s 2004 Menoramorph, made from neon green silicon. Also on view is a 1985 Hanukkah lamp by noted architect Richard Meier, who fashioned each candleholder into an architectural representation from significant moments of persecution in Jewish history. Lamps from Austria, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States are included ranging from the 17th to the 21st century.

Daniel Libeskind is one of the most important architects working today, celebrated for his ability to infuse innovative design with a strong sense of memory and history. He has designed a multitude of structures, from museums and concert halls to convention centers and universities. His projects include the Jewish museums in Berlin, San Francisco and Denmark, as well as the master plan for the World Trade Center.

Mr. Libeskind worked with Jewish Museum Curator of Archaeology and Judaica, Susan L. Braunstein, a leading authority on Hanukkah lamps, to create the exhibition. A Hanukkah Project: Daniel Libeskind’s Line of Fire is presented as part of Light x Eight: Hanukkah 2010 at The Jewish Museum, a new, annual, eight-day celebration of the holiday featuring eclectic music, family festivities, provocative talk and more. More information about Light x Eight may be obtained by visiting the Museum’s web site at

The festival of Hanukkah commemorates an ancient victory for religious freedom – the liberation and reestablishment of Jewish worship in the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. According to legend, a miracle occurred as the Jews gave thanks for divine intervention. A one-day supply of consecrated oil necessary for worship burned for the entire eight-day celebration. One of the most popular and beloved Jewish ceremonial objects, the Hanukkah lamp has evolved over the centuries for the kindling of lights during the eight nights of Hanukkah. The Jewish Museum’s collection of Hanukkah lamps reflects the multitude of places where Jews have lived and flourished, as they often incorporate local styles and motifs. The design and history of each lamp speak to a complex interaction of political events, Jewish law, artistic expression, and personal experience. The millennia-old tradition of kindling the festival lights on a winter’s evening continues to have profound meaning around the world as a celebration of freedom and miracles. Hanukkah begins at sundown on Wednesday, December 1 and continues until sundown on Thursday, December 9, 2010.

This exhibition has been made possible by the Barbara S. Horowitz Contemporary Art Fund.

Image: Hanukkah Lamp Manufacturer: Orivit-Aktiengesellschaft (1900-1905) Köln-Braunsfeld (Germany), 1900-1905 White metal: cast and silver-plated; glass: mold formed 13 7/8 x 12 3/4 x 5 5/16 in. (35.3 x 32.4 x 13.5 cm) The Jewish Museum, New York Gift of Dr. Harry G. Friedman (?), F 3573

Public Program
In Conversation: Daniel Libeskind and Joan Rosenbaum
On Thursday, December 2 at 6:30 pm, architect Daniel Libeskind will join Jewish Museum Director Joan Rosenbaum to discuss how his work embodies Jewish sensibilities. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $18 for Jewish Museum members.

Program tickets can be obtained at or by calling 212.423.3337.

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