A menorah made out of fragments of the thousands of Qassam rockets that have been fired into southern Israel over the years has been acquired by the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation (TBDJ) in Côte-Saint-Luc, Que.
It’s one of only 50 such pieces by Israeli sculptor Yaron Bob and was donated by synagogue members Jeff and Adria Mandel.
The menorah is a traditional nine-branch candelabra that was lit during Chanukah and will be displayed in the synagogue throughout the year “as a symbol of peace and light,” said Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich.
Bob’s artwork is inspired by the biblical injunction, “and they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” A blacksmith by trade who lives in the small moshav of Yated, near the Gaza border, he experienced first-hand the rocket attacks launched by Hamas, including two close calls.
He wanted to make something positive from the trauma and destruction. Over the past 15 years, 18,000 rockets have been launched into the region.
For his first project, called Roses into Rockets, he collected spent steel shells, most of them given to him by police after they had been checked by the bomb squad, and hand crafted them into flowers.
The finished pieces do not look like rockets. “I take the Qassam, an instrument of death, and I change it. I transform it into something of beauty,” he says. A single rose – with petals, stem and leaves – takes three to four hours to make and no two are exactly alike.
Each piece bears a plaque attesting to when the rocket, or rockets, it’s composed of landed in Israel.
Bob hopes his work symbolizes the endurance of the people of Israel and their enduring hope for peace.
He donates a portion of the proceeds from each sale towards building more bomb shelters for the nearly one million Israelis who live within striking distance of Gaza.
The piece acquired by TBDJ is titled the Sderot Menorah, for the border town, which was the hardest hit by the airstrikes. Measuring about 53 cm wide by 53 cm high, the branches are wrapped in intricate vines and the base is inscribed with the plowshares saying from Isaiah 2:4.
Jeff Mandel has been a member of TBDJ for more than 40 years. “TBDJ did not have a proper menorah for Chanukah and when I came across this one, there seemed to be a beautiful message in taking the remnants of weapons and turning them into something beautiful that can be used to fulfill a mitzvah,” he said.