German Christians design a replica of the Temple's menorah.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A group of 11 German Christians left on a boat for Israel on Monday, bringing with them a 120-kg. gilded menorah.
The full-size replica of the Temple candelabra measuring 150 cm. is being shipped from Germany to Haifa port via Rome to the port of Haifa. It will arrive on May 5, and be presented on May 9 at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
The group of independent Germans, who call themselves simply “The Menorah Project,” said they have been working on the piece for a year and a half. They raised €120,000 in private donations to fund the initiative.
“The seven-branched menorah is a symbol of the State of Israel,” said Luca-Elias Hezel, who initiated the project. “For us, it is a symbol that speaks louder and more meaningful than all words.”
He said the menorah, modeled after the menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome, is being given to the Jewish people with “a broad heart and in solidarity” and as a gift on Israel’s 71st Independence Day.
On its website, the Menorah Project explains its vision: “As the Jewish people need to publicly deal with injustice and robbery, we want to publicly bring back the menorah from Rome to Jerusalem.”
Today, in Rome, one can still see a replica of the menorah at the Arch of Titus, which serves as a reminder of the Roman Empire’s triumph over the Jews in Judea and their conquest of Jerusalem. The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 CE.
The robbery, according to the website, symbolically stands for the distance between the early church and its Jewish roots, which ultimately led to what is known as Replacement theology: the idea that God replaced Israel with the Church, and the original Bible (Old Testament) with a new one. Replacement theology is often blamed as the root cause of antisemitism, including the Holocaust.
“The church never returned the holy instruments back to the Jewish people,” the Menorah Project explained. “Instead, the church saw itself as the new spiritual Israel… We want to set a statement. We want to accept our failures as a church and set a sign of return.
“It is a public statement towards the Jewish people and an act of asking for forgiveness as well,” the project continued in a statement.
“The replica of the menorah is not meant to be a cult-object but shall find its place as a memorial in Jerusalem.”