On a dark hillside just east of Jerusalem, a menorah, made of falafel bags, sand and candles, lit up the night. The 10 meter by 11 meter Channukiah is the work of The Gordons, a husband and wife art team from the United States. The Gordons, Rachel and Joseph Connelly made aliyah to Maale Adumim in September.
The menorah consists of 500 falafel bags, filled with enough sand to weigh the bags down and a 25 hour memorial candle.
"The idea came to us as we were looking at the hillside." said Joseph, "There's light across the horizon, except for this one big expanse of darkness. It was like looking at a blank canvas, I just wondered what would look good there."
With Hanukah approaching, they decided to design a menorah for the space. In the US, people use the paper bags and candles to light their sidewalks during the holiday seasons. The bags protect the flames from blowing out and also become luminous sending out a warm glow. Even blizzards of snow in Wisconsin, where they moved from, would not put out the candles.
"We didn't realize how different things were here," Rachel said. "There just aren't paper bags here like there are in the States. We were happy to find the falafel bags. They add a lot to the piece, making it more even Israeli."
Their next difficulty was finding a suitable light source.
"We experimented with a few different candles, tea candles, olive oil. Either they didn't last long enough or were too expensive," Rachel said.
Eventually, they were able to find a good deal on the memorial candles from a distributor. While tramping to distributor's warehouse in Moshav Even Sappir, they were picked up by a stranger who was going to the same warehouse.
"This has been a great experience for us. We're both in Kitah Aleph Plus in ulpan. So, our language skills are low," Joseph said. "Fortunately, friends and even strangers have come through for us, helping us make this come out."
The menorah will be lit Tuesday and Wednesday nights. One bonus of using the long burning candles is that The Gordon's will be able to go out in the morning and blow the candles out and re-light them in the evening. The funding for the project came from donations.
Although they have been working together for 7 years, it hasn't always been as collaborators. Joseph is a performance artist. Rachel is a photographer and fiber artist. Over the years, Rachel has taken almost all of Joseph?s photographs. Like the Channukiah, most of Joseph's work is temporary and in social settings. It survives only in photographs.
They are currently working on a large photographic piece titled The Famous Cats of Jerusalem. The Gordons decided to use Rachel's maiden name as their art name, when Rachel had her last name changed during their aliyah process.Click here to see pictures of the E1 Menorah