Looking for a Menorah Drake Would Own
During the holiday season a few years ago, my mother sent me a dozen Fabergé egg-inspired ornaments from one of the Joan Rivers for QVC holiday collections. Instead of trying to parse any of the cultural meeting points going on — Russian Orthodox meets Jewish woman meets Christmas decorations — I hung them up on a succulent in my living room.
I didn’t think I would care about them, but those ornaments ended up delighting me.
Growing up, I celebrated a vague version of Christmas and Hanukkah, so I guess my apartment could, too. Except that I was ignoring Hanukkah from a décor standpoint. Once, I had a weirdly psychedelic menorah that had belonged to my father at some point during his childhood but it was lost in a move. I’ve looked for a new menorah to replace it but never found one that delighted me the way my pagan wreaths with all the eucalyptus and dried pomegranates, or the clove and bay and vetiver of my Byredo Altar candle, did.
The problem is not mine alone. Judaica is often underserved when it comes to design. A lot of the stuff — menorahs, dreidels, mezuzas, Seder plates, challah plates — skews tasteful but, candidly, boring. “It’s like we get it — Jews can have West Elm, too,” my friend Mattie said of a Judaica designer that gets on a lot of lists of “cute menorahs” but who we found deeply bland. I wanted the kind of menorah that Drake would own.
I started by looking at some of the more wild Brutalist-style menorahs, of which there are many on Etsy or 1stDibs. For a newer version, I like the ones from the Vermont blacksmith Steven Bronstein’s Blackthorne Forge, especially the bold and sculptural ribbon menorah.
The ceramic Swey menorah was minimalist but just a little off-kilter. Or I could go in another direction and get the Flamingo Estate menorah made with Zack Nathanson with “festival of lights” spelled out in giant letters.
When I Googled “Murano glass menorah” at 2 in the morning, I knew I needed to get hold of myself. They do exist. A place called Glass of Venice has a clear glass and gold version, and David’s Shop has some maximalist multicolored ones.
I wholly endorse choosing a direction and then steering into it: the most severely Brutalist, the most chaotic colored glass, the most elegant minimalist.
I did get one of the Susan Alexandra dreidels, the one shaped like grapes. My favorite fruit! I haven’t used it yet because I have completely forgotten the rules. I aspire to be someone who throws a latke party and has dreidel games going and piles of gelt (chocolate or cash). The shop recently introduced a collection of Judaica that’s joyful and Instagram friendly, and is what anyone in my life under the age of 40 is getting for Hanukkah.
There is also a Yankees kipa, a beaded mezuza and bronze bow earrings with chunky Stars of David. Susan Korn, the designer behind Susan Alexandra, gave me a hot tip that the label is at work on Seder plates. Ms. Korn has her own fantastical menorah designed to look like a pack of cigarettes with cigarette candles and another shaped like a challah. ($28)
Judaica Standard Time x B. Zippy
The artist Bari Ziperstein has collaborated with the online shop Judaica Standard Time on modular menorahs. I’m a fan of Ms. Ziperstein’s work, and this would be a thoughtful introduction to collecting her. If you have slight obsessive compulsive disorder and enjoy constantly rearranging your possessions for display (as I do), consider the many, many, many ways you could space out making this menorah look just right.
The light, almost celery-looking chartreuse is the shade I would pick, but the terra-cotta version would be a good gift for an earthier friend. Judaica Standard Time x Vada Jewelry’s solid 14-karat yellow gold Star of David necklace is a nice antidote to all the delicate silver Judaica jewelry on the market. ($200)
My friend Stewart has a theory that much design these days can be classified as either “swoopy” or “gloopy.” Ms. Yadid’s ceramic menorahs are definitely gloopy. I mean that as a compliment. Her ceramics are chunky and intentionally imperfect. She also has a nice sense of how to use colors that are bright and clashing but feel harmonious. My favorite is the pink with blue specks and gold luster. It would give some life to a white kitchen or to a living room bathed in beiges. Maybe throw in a matching mezuza to show you’re entering a home with taste? ($600)
Ben Wolf Noam
The artist Ben Wolf Noam has more than a dozen variations of his mushroom menorahs. They look both like something from a Chagall painting and something a Deadhead would have sold on a blanket in Santa Cruz. Guess who grew up in Santa Cruz with a Chagall print in her dad’s bedroom? That’s right, it’s me. (I’m the problem, it’s me, in the words of Taylor Swift.)
This is the gift for someone who is really into the crunchy Los Angeles fashion line Online Ceramics and is spending Christmas the Jewish way, watching Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise” on Netflix and trying to get a reservation at the Mile End Deli annual Chinese feast. ($2,200)
I am sorry to lead with bad news, but the $5,000 petrified wood menorah I want for all of us is sold out, as is the travertine marble one. But, in a holiday miracle, Ms. Polskin has marble and resin composite menorahs. They are true sculptures first, so much so that the artist recommends using only dripless candles. I like the look of wax melting over its holder, but I also respect the artist vision happening.
They come in white and black, but the black reminds me a bit of the black clay ceramics from Oaxaca, Mexico. The exact kind of person who is going to Mexico City or San Miguel de Allende and spending the equivalent of rent on a suitcase full of handmade vessels and talking all about how amazing flor de calabaza quesadillas are is exactly the kind of person who would love this menorah. ($1,250)