Three years ago, a group of devout Christians gifted a golden menorah to Israel to “return the stolen light of the Temple” and to do a partial “tikkun” on the Holocaust. Like the original Menorah in the Tabernacle, the golden menorah has yet to find a permanent home.
In 2018, a group of 12 Christians in Germany began discussing how they could do a “tikkun” (fixing) of the Holocaust. Despite acknowledging that repairing the loss of six million souls was impossible, they felt a need to act. Coming together from disparate backgrounds, they were united by their love for Israel. Naming themselves ‘Reforma-Tzion’, the group sought to fix the horrific act carried out against Jews in the name of Christianity.
“We needed a new reformation, one that was based on Zion,” Alex Dietz, a member of the group now living in Israel, said. “Martin Luther had some of the Holy Spirit, a real encounter with God. But at the end of his life, he became antisemitic because the Jews refused to accept Jesus. Hitler based his antisemitism on Martin Luther. We needed to fix that. Christians don’t need to reform Israel. We need to fix ourselves, to bring into Christianity a revelation of Israel, where the Bible started.”
They consulted with Bart Repko, a Dutch Christian now deceased who had taken it upon himself to enact the prophecy of praying for the peace of Jerusalem by praying at the Western Wall every day. Inspired by his connection with the Jewish Temple, they came up with a new idea.
As a student of history, Repko was aware of the many injustices perpetrated against the Jews in the name of religion.
“He longed to fix the injustices by praying but also through acts,” Dietz said. “He had a revelation that we needed to fix the theft of the Menorah, God’s light, by Titus.”
The group decided to make a model of the Temple menorah stolen by Titus and return it to Israel via the same route that the menorah was taken from Israel.
“We wanted the menorah to stand as a reminder to Christians that we broke something,” Dietz said. “This can be a sign of our repentance. The Jews have returned but the Christians need to fix what we broke, to return what we stole.”
“We saw that the stealing of the menorah in 70 CE was not just stealing of gold,” Dietz said. “After stealing the menorah, Rome declared itself as the city of God, the true Israel. God never left Israel but we need to return what was stolen. Everything needs to return to the source, where it began.”
The Menorah Project required €120,000 in private donations and 18 months to create but they succeeded. In May 2019, a 265-pound gold-plated duplicate of the menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome arrived in Israel just before the celebration of Israel’s 71st Independence Day.
A ceremony was held at the Haifa Port to mark the arrival. The menorah was then received by Moshe Lion, the Mayor of Jerusalem. The Menorah was then displayed at the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem for an event held by a Holocaust survivor.
The Menorah then found a temporary home at the Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art in Jerusalem where it was displayed in a replica of the synagogue of Conegliano Veneto.
“At the ceremony, there were people who were the direct descendants of Jews who had been taken into slavery by the Romans,” Dietz related. The museum underwent renovations so the Menorah once again needed a new home.
The plan was to find a public venue in Jerusalem so the public could see the symbol. Dietz viewed the wanderings of the Menorah with equanimity.
“The original Menorah rested in over 40 different locations before it was brought into Israel,” Dietz said. “And even after it was brought into Israel, it didn’t enter Jerusalem until it rested in Shilo for over 400 years.”
In a similar manner, the golden Menorah from Germany moved on to the Ann Frank exhibit in Jerusalem run by the Hineni organization. Benjamin Philip, the head of Hineni, explained the relevance of the menorah to the exhibit.
“We made it an extension of the Frank exhibition as proof that awful things can be changed,” Philip told Israel365 News. Unfortunately, the exhibit was closed down due to tourist restrictions put in place during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We had to close down everything,” Philip said. “We’ve reopened and we’re going to renovate the space and start again. The menorah is on display, and I hope in 2023, we’re going to return to hosting larger groups.”
Philip noted that the menorah is a shining example of pure-hearted love by Christians for Israel.
“There is a certain love that is inevitable that people will show for Israel,” Philip said. “But not all the love that is shown to Israel is sincere. In too many cases, the initial motive and ultimate goal are based in replacement theology. The Jews are precious, assailed by assimilation, antisemitism, and attempts to convert them. In too many cases when Christianity has shown love to Israel, it’s really not love but hatred of the Jew.”