Rabbi's Wife's Picture From 1932 Showing Menorah Displayed Under Nazi Flag Resurfaces During Hanukkah: 'Our Light Will Outlast Their Flag'

During the Jewish festival of Hanukkah this year, a powerful photo exhibiting one woman's defiance against one of world history's most violent and oppressive regimes has made the rounds on social media.

The black-and-white photograph depicts a menorah positioned directly in front of a window through which the Nazi flag is seen hanging from a building across the street.

On the back of the photo, the woman who took it, Rachel Posner, wrote in German, "'Death to Judah' so the flag says, 'Judah will live forever,' so the light answers."

One social media user offered a slightly different take on the caption, tweeting, "Our light will outlast their flag."

Germany 1931. On the back of the picture, the rabbi's wife wrote, "Our light will outlast their flag." #HappyHanukkah pic.twitter.com/prWJqfu95t

— Tom D'Angora #BidenHarris #BLM (@TomDangora) December 24, 2019

The menorah is a traditional Jewish candelabra used in religious ceremony. According to the book of Exodus, or Shemot in Hebrew, God himself revealed the original, six-branched menorah to Moses on Mount Sinai thousands of years ago. The eight-branched design celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah, when, after three years of fighting invaders, Jews were able to reclaim the temple in Jerusalem and reconsecrate it. Rededicating the temple meant relighting the menorah—which was meant to signify an eternal flame—using the tiny amount of oil available. Instead of burning out after one day, the story goes, the oil provided eight days of undying light, lasting until more oil was available to keep the flame going.

Writer Daniella Greenbaum Davis shared the photo on December 21, the day before Hanukkah began. In 2017, Greenbaum Davis penned a celebrated op-ed about the photo for The New York Times.

She wrote that Rachel Posner was the wife of rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, and that their family lived in Kiel, Germany. For Hanukkah in 1932, they lit the menorah and placed it on the windowsill for their neighbors to see and know that the prominent symbol of anti-Semitism across the street would not deter them from practicing their faith and celebrating their culture.

Within a few years, Germany's Nazi government would begin systematically murdering millions of Jewish people as well as political dissidents, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and people of Romani descent. While precise numbers of those killed cannot be determined, experts agree that the regime killed at least six million people in death camps before allied Russian, U.K. and U.S. forces defeated Germany in 1945.

The Posners escaped Germany in 1933 and settled in the Israel, Greenbaum Davis wrote, where their descendants still live today. The menorah in the photo is held at Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, for most of the year. However, each year during Hanukkah the family takes it back and uses it for the holiday.

Akiva Baruch Mansbach, a great-grandson of Akiva and and Rachel Posner, told Greenbaum Davis that lighting the menorah reminds him of the resilience of his ancestors and the Jewish people.

"The same light that my great-grandparents lit in the exile in Germany is the light that so many light today in Israel," Mansbach said. "It demonstrates the continuity of Jewish history."

“Whether it’s the Greeks on Hanukkah or the Nazis in Germany, they want the same thing — to destroy the nation of Israel,” he added. The menorah symbolizes the strength and continuity of our nation, the idea that it is strong and will conquer all its enemies.”

— Daniella Greenbaum Davis (@DGreenbaum) December 21, 2019
Birds fly by during the National Chanukah Menorah lighting on the Ellipse December 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/Getty