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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.