A Chasidic Rabbi and artist is working to shine new light on public menorahs. Over the last seven years, Chabad Rabbi Yitzchok Moully has been creating Hanukkah-inspired public art in New York, New Jersey and Miami.
What started out as large canvas paintings soon transformed into life-size wall murals, which, before anyone could say, “Spin the dreidel!” had morphed into an interactive mural.
Last year, Moully’s menorah evolved into a real-life three-dimensional “human” menorah. On 5th Avenue in Manhattan, outside the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn and at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, men, women and children – Jewish and non-Jewish – were invited to step up to the ten foot tall seventeen foot wide Living Lights menorah, each of whose eight enormous lights could only be activated by human touch.
When all eight were lit in unison by friends or family or perfect strangers, a surprise light show was unleashed, celebrating the truth that the collective light of "hUmaNITY," as he wrote it, "is far greater than the sum of its parts."
Rabbi Moully's newest project
Moully's project this year is a shining public art menorah installation commissioned by The Howard Hughes Corporation for the Seaport, a historic waterfront neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. A opposed to the classic Chabad public menorah, the Seaport menorah, fabricated from stainless steel and designed to evoke the image of a sail – in homage to the port’s storied history as a booming maritime trade center – has been built and displayed on the Heineken Riverdeck at the north side of Pier 17, overlooking the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The 15-foot-tall menorah was unveiled at the Seaport on the first night of Chanukah, as part of “Hanukkah on Ice," the annual celebration hosted by Chabad of Wall Street, the Jewish Learning Experience and The Howard Hughes Corporation.
While many rabbis have addressed the ritualistic intricacies involved in the public menorah lightings, Moully is focused on introducing a new form and shine to this ancient symbol of religious dedication. His goal is to "unveil a new public art menorah each and every year, with four or five new designs already on the drawing board," according to Moully.
Asked about his creative plans for the next few years, Moully told The Jerusalem Post that "I have a very ambitious menorah project that will change the Jerusalem skyline," but wouldn't yet give all the details. "I have a number of different concepts we are working on. One of them being a mechanical menorah where each of the arms rotates independently."
Moully added that he's also working on a green-self-sustaining and self-powering menorah, as well as using light, "not just for the top of the menorah but for the body as well."