London's Jewish Museum preparing to buy 300-year-old hanukkia for new location
In order to purchase the hanukkia from its owners, the Jewish Museum needs to raise a total of £300,000.
Photo: Courtesy of Jewish Museum London
After displaying the Lindo hanukkia, England's earliest known hanukkia, for over 70 years, London's Jewish Museum has almost raised sufficient funds to purchase the relic.
In order to purchase the hanukkia from its owners, the Jewish Museum needs to raise a total of Â£300,000. The museum has currently raised grants totaling Â£250,000, including Â£145,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), Â£75,000 from the independent charity The Art Fund, and Â£30,000 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Fund.
The museum still needs to raise Â£50,000 from private sources to purchase the Lindo hanukkia, one of the museum's most important treasures of British Jewish heritage, from the descendants of its original owners.
The hanukkia was commissioned from silversmith John Ruslen in 1709 in honor of the marriage of Elias Lindo to Rachel Lopes Ferreira. The Lindos were prominent members of the early community of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in London and founding members of Bevis Marks Synagogue, established in 1701. The hanukkia's back plate features the prophet Elijah being fed by the ravens, a tribute to the patron's Hebrew name.
The Jewish Museum was first opened in 1932, and the Lindo hanukkia has been in the museum since its inception.
"The owners are looking to sell the hanukkia, and it could end up in a private collection, not for public view," said Dina Wosner, marketing representative for the Jewish Museum. "We would like to buy it and keep it in the collection."
If the museum is able to purchase the hanukkia, it will be prominently featured in the museum's new location, which is currently undergoing a Â£14 million development and plans to reopen in early 2010. The expansion will triple the space at the museum's flagship Camden Town premises, bring together the collections, displays and activities of its two former sites and create new education facilities and exhibition galleries with hands-on displays for children and families.
If purchased, the hanukkia will be on public display in the newly developed religion gallery titled "Judaism: A Living Faith." The gallery will house the museum's magnificent collection of Jewish ceremonial art, which has been awarded "designated" status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in recognition of its outstanding national importance.
"We are delighted to receive these significant grant awards, which bring us closer to securing the future of the Lindo hanukkia as part of the permanent collections and new displays at the Jewish Museum," said Rickie Burman, director of the Jewish Museum. "It would be tragic if this gem of Anglo-Jewish heritage would vanish from public view in this country. The acquisition of the hanukkia would be an excellent way to mark this outstanding object's 300th birthday this year."