Upon presenting his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, Ron Dermer, Israel's 18th ambassador to the U.S., brought with him a very special gift–a pair of cufflinks with the symbol of the menorah, the symbol of the State of Israel. The menorah etched on these cufflinks, however, date to a significantly earlier period—specifically the year 0.
Discovered during the excavation of a drainage channel that runs beneath the ancient Herodian Road, the major thoroughfare upon which pilgrims traveled from the Shiloach Pool to the Temple Mount, the etching is a testament to the incredible bravery of the Jewish people as they fled the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. It was in this very drainage channel that the Jews hid as they fled Jerusalem. The cracks in the road above, made by the Romans as they searched for Jews in hiding, are still visible today.
Cufflinks with the menorah etching as it was displayed when presented to President Obama. On the right: Incoming Ambassador Dermer and President Obama at the credentialing ceremony. (Photo: Ron Dermer’s Facebook page)
The Herodian Road, with cracks made by the Roman soldiers. The drainage channel where the Menora was found runs beneath it. (Photo: Vladimir Naychin)
Two thousand years later, the excavation of the channel uncovered the stone slab upon which a five branched menorah was etched. Archeologists believe that we can learn a lot about the shape of the original menorah that stood in the Temple from this carving - found a short distance from the site where the Temple once stood.
The menorah etched on the cufflinks which Ambassador Dermer brought President Obama all the way from the City of David is inspired by this menorah, truly a symbol of the Jewish nation’s battle over 2,000 years ago, and a testament to our connection to this land and to its capital city, Jerusalem.