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What’s the Best Actually Nice-Looking Judaica?

Photo: retailer

When it comes to Judaica — whether it’s a mezuzah, menorah, or Shabbat candle holders — the offerings are wide, but the number of items that you actually might want to proudly display are fairly slim. There are a few prevailing aesthetics: the traditional, grandmotherly pieces in ornate silver and gold (pretty, but not the easiest to mix into otherwise casual décor, and often very expensive); the modernist-bordering-on-austere pieces (a mezuzah that looks like it’s made out of a wrought-iron pipe); and the kitschy-thematic (think a menorah made up of eight miniature nail-polish bottles or a New York Knicks mezuzah). But with the recent launch of two new brands, Judaica has suddenly gotten the design-focused start-up treatment: Matte, earth-toned chanukiahs, mezuzahs, and Shabbat candleholders in shades of “clay” and “sand” make up the offerings at New York–based Via Maris, while mid-fire stoneware menorahs are available at Judaica Standard Time, a company started by friends who met at Hebrew school in Los Angeles. Below, more Judaica that wouldn’t look remotely out of place beside a Memphis-inspired vase or Noguchi lamp.


Photo: retailer

Via Maris’s Trace Chanukiah is made of steel and comes in warm matte shades of pinkish “clay,” deep cobalt blue, and yellow “sand,” among others, that make it feel of a piece with the last few years’ Memphis-inspired décor, while still being versatile enough to work with interiors minimalist and maximalist alike.

Judaica Standard Time works with designers and artists to make pieces like this ceramic menorah, which was made in Camden, Maine. As they write, “The piece forces you to ask the question, is this designed for eight fleeting nights? Or can this be displayed as a more permanent fixture in the home?” We think it’s cool enough to leave out all year.

We’re fans of this acrylic menorah, which comes in fun shades of pink, green, and yellow that we would imagine reflect candlelight in a quite pleasing way.

If you prefer clear glass, consider this elegant crystal number from West Elm, which might look especially nice on your minimalist stone coffee table.

Or go for a marble menorah: The simple arc shape of this one makes it an easy piece to leave out on your mantle year round.

Another marble contender, with a subtle brass holder for the shamash candle.

If you prefer all brass, this solid iron menorah will fit the bill — and comes in a warm shade of gold that keep it from looking too austere.

Made in Brooklyn, this menorah is by Humalathe, a line of sculptural design pieces that are often available at the Hester Street Fair. The Hannah Menorah is made of solid aluminum and, according to the artist, was inspired by family Hanukkah traditions.

Photo: retailer

Another aluminum number — and at four pounds, a satisfyingly substantial weight — this piece from Via Maris comes apart in two pieces for easier cleaning and to reveal an inner compartment where you can store the 44 candles you’ll need to celebrate eight nights of Hanukkah.

You might be familiar with artist Julia Elsas “Wiggle” wall hooks, but have you seen her ceramic menorahs? This blue splatter one comes in two sizes (10-to-12 inches and 16-to-18 inches) and is another one that would look nice on its own as an art object all year.

And another one from Elsas: a floppy, stripe-y menorah with a lemon-colored interior.

This Judaica Standard menorah, which was based on a series of sketches by artist Bari Zipperstein of “what a menorah could and should be,” can be taken apart and rearranged in any formation that you wish — and as the brand suggests, might be an especially good one for keeping kids entertained.

Another building-block menorah, in muted pastel shades that will bring a dose of your grandparents’ South Beach abode into your own.

A fun play on the jugs of oil in the Hanukkah story, this menorah is handmade and made to order — so be sure to order soon to get it in time for the holiday.

For the person who loves Delft: A blue-and-white porcelain menorah that also has a trompe l’oeil effect, thanks to its menorah-painted-on-a-menorah design.

If you do want something a little more classic, you can’t go wrong with pieces from Michael Aram, a designer well known for his lovely nature-inspired Judaica pieces.

Maybe industrial-meets-rustic is your thing: This hefty solid cast-iron menorah will take on a patina with years of use, and as Areaware puts it, has a weight that “gives it a sense of solidity and self-worth, like a trusted tool found on a family farm.”

And if you want something more traditional: This gold-and-silver menorah looks like something that we’d appreciate for years to come, and while many of the more modern menorahs on this list could double as everyday design objects, this one stands out as a specifically holiday ritual piece.

And for the true maximalist: This Olivia Riegel menorah may be low-to-the-table, but it’s made in an ornate pewter cast and adorned with Swarovski crystals, which are sure to bring some sparkle to your eight nights.

Shabbat candlesticks

Photo: retailer

Via Maris also makes Shabbat candles and candleholders, in the same warm matte shades as their menorahs — we would pair these in a contrasting color with a menorah to make a charming wedding or Bat Mitzvah gift.

There’s something satisfying about the simplicity of these Georg Jensen candleholders, which can be ordered from the (newly-reopened!) Jewish Museum shop.

Tree of Life, yes, but in a subtle way that doesn’t feel like something purchased from your synagogue’s shop in 1995.

Another tilelike porcelain piece that we’re picturing with some contrast-colored Shabbat candles.

And an elegant, traditional pair (they match the Reed & Barton menorah above).


Photo: reatiler

A sleek acrylic mezuzah that’s a bit more playful than its wood and metal predecessors — and it’s available in a range of shades, from terra cotta to turquoise.

Did you know Kate Spade made mezuzah containers? Neither did we, but we’re fans of this handsome, gold-plated one (and of the other pieces in the brand’s Oak Street Judaica collection, including this menorah and challah knife.)

A lovely floral piece from Michael Aram that looks like the kind of thing you might pass down to your grandkids.

Photo: retailer

A Via Maris mezuzah to complete your set. It’s made of steel and glass, and the screws are hidden so that it will blend subtly with your doorframe.

Seder plates

We’ve been fans of artist Isabel Halley’s striped wine cups and soap dishes for some time now, but it’s the simplicity of this elegant pinch-pot Seder plate that makes it especially appealing for the ritual meal — and the 22-karat gold rims on the pots places it securely in the “special occasion” category.

A glossy modernist take on the Seder plate from Jonathan Adler that we can picture with a contrasting tablecloth and napkins.

And something a bit more traditional from Michael Aram, with pretty beaded piping along the edges.

Everything else

If your WFH setup is feeling a little dull, why not add … a dreidel?

Another lovely piece by Isabel Halley that matches the ivory-and-gold Seder plate.

There’s something cozy about the embroidery on this silk challah cover, which looks like something that could have been passed down for generations.

A little kitschy, sure, but ideal for your Hanukkah party with the pod this year.

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What’s the Best Actually Nice-Looking Judaica?