Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Known as the Festival of Lights, it commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Greeks in the 2nd century. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and eight days. Each night the Hanukkiah, a nine-branch menorah, is lit and blessings are sung. Hanukkah is celebrated by singing songs, eating latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts), and playing games with a dreydl (spinning top).
Paper cutting is one of few Jewish visual arts that has a long history. In Jewish tradition, creating idols or life-like beings was not allowed, and paper cutting lent itself to permitted abstract imagery. Paper cutting was also inexpensive and easily picked up and moved if a community felt threatened. It became popular throughout European and North African Jewish communities as early as the 17th century. Holidays and important life events would be commemorated with paper-cut art. Many homes were, and still are, decorated with prayers, marriage contracts, and memorials that feature the art of paper cutting.
The Hanukkah stamp pictured above was inspired by the art of Jewish paper cutting. Artist Jeanette Kuvin Oren hand-dyed silk fabric to create bright colors and then appliquéd and quilted the fabrics. Black fabric was then cut and attached to create the finished quilted wall hanging.
Paper cutting is usually done with a sharp knife, but it can also be made with scissors like scherenschnitte, a German form of paper cutting.
Artwork and instructions courtesy of Jeanette Kuvin Oren.
You will need:
- a white pencil
- a glue stick
- black origami or thin black paper cut to 4.5 x 6 inches
- several pieces of silver and gold origami paper (at least 4.5 x 6 inches)
- 6-by-9-inch blue or white card stock paper
- Hanukkah postage stamp
- A4 envelope
About the Artist
A graduate of Princeton and Yale Universities, Jeanette Kuvin Oren completed a master’s degree in public health and most of her PhD in epidemiology before devoting herself full time to commissioned art and graphic design. Since 1984 Jeanette has created installation pieces for more than 400 houses of worship, schools, community centers, and camps around the world. She specializes in large installations of glass, mosaic, metal, fiber art, calligraphy, paper cutting, and painting. Jeanette makes Torah covers, ark curtains, donor recognition art, huppot, ketubot, wall hangings, and many other items for homes and institutions. Jeanette designed the 2022 United States Postal Service Hanukkah Stamp.