Uniting the Jewish people through producing Hanukkah menorahs

‘Hanukkah for all Jewish people represents our strong roots,’ says Hazorfim CEO Yakov Merdinger.

CEO of Hazorfim Yakov Merdinger looks at produced silver candlesticks and menorahs.  (photo credit: HAZORFIM)
CEO of Hazorfim Yakov Merdinger looks at produced silver candlesticks and menorahs.
(photo credit: HAZORFIM)
For silversmith Yakov Merdinger, making menorahs and Judaica has been part of his life since he was eight, when he began working at his family’s business, Hazorfim, during school breaks. Today he is the CEO of the company, headquartered in Kfar Daniel near Modi’in.

In the last two years, Hazorfim has seen 35% growth in its export of menorahs, mostly to the US and Europe. Customers include Jews ofall denominations, and non-Jews too.

“Non-Jewish customers see the symbol of the menorah as strength and protection,” Merdinger told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “People are seeing [US President] Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka lighting menorahs, and they see Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu lighting and other leaders doing it too… and it encourages them.”

He recalled that in their store “in Italy, we sold a big menorah to a Saudi Arabian women,” adding the customer had a special display space in the wall for the candelabra.
 
“Someone afterwards told her it was a Jewish menorah, but she kept it because of its beauty,” he said.

Hazorfim today operates five stores in the United States, and Merdinger said that they see a difference in which communities are interested in specific menorahs.

In Lakewood, New Jersey, “they want more smooth, elegant but in places like Williamsburg, they want a more ornamental design.”
Last week Hazorfim sold a menorah that was over one meter tall, which took six months to make. The client wanted to light up his entire house for Hanukkah, Merdinger said. The client told him that if the Christians can place a massive Christmas tree in their home, why can’t he do the same with a hanukkiah.

According to a survey that Hazorfim conducted, 90% of Jewish families have a menorah in their home and that 85% of Jewish households light the menorah.

In Israel, Merdinger said that he also found the vast majority of Israelis - whether religious or secular - celebrate Hanukkah.

“Hanukkah is an important holiday not only the religious, but even for non-religious,” Merdinger said. Hanukkah for all Jewish people represents “our strong roots. It’s a symbol for everyone of strength and unity, and the power of persistence.”

He said that this is not just a story about the victory of the Maccabees, but of all the victories of the Jewish people in Israel.

“Even now, we educate the next generation, in kindergartens, and they learn about Hanukkah, and how much we fight for our land,” Merdinger said. “Even now, when we are divided because of elections and the government, Hanukkah unites us all… The menorah is a really good and important symbol for us.”

“We produce the menorahs is in Kfar Daniel, and this is the same area where much of the story of the Maccabees took place,” he noted. “It’s not a coincidence that we are here.”

With Hanukkah fast approaching, Merdinger said that they have already run out of stock of their modern menorahs despite beginning to produce them at the beginning of the year.

“We plan next year to double production of all the menorahs and the more modern ones,” he said.

Concluding, Medinger said that he always feels like the “richest man in the world” because he gets to be the emissary who supplies so many people with the opportunity to do the mitzvah of lighting the Hanukkah menorah.