Meotti Lights a Menorah at the Arch of Titus

The candles lit at the site where Rome commemorated its victory over the Jews are a symbol of Jewish renewal in the face of anti-Semitism.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Menorah at the Arch
Menorah at the Arch

The Arch of Titus, built by Domitian in 81 C.E., is a triumphal Roman commemoration of the bloody victory of his father Vespasian and brother Titus over Judea and their burning of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

For the Jews, the arch is not so much a commemoration as it is an open wound. Jews traditionally would not walk through the arch because of its boastful depiction of the plundering of the holy treasures of the Temple, most central of which is the relief of the seven branched menorah being carried by Jewish captives to Rome. The relief became a symbol of exile and oppression for the Jewish people, while rumor has it that the menorah and other holy vessels of the Temple are hidden in the Vatican. 

When the state of Israel was declared in 1948, Roman Jews gathered at the Arch spontaneously and walked joyfully backwards through it. The Knesset chose the menorah, copied from the arch, as the emblem of the State of Israel. 

And now, in a step further along the path returning to Zion of old. Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva's intrepid op-ed columnist, writer at il Giorno and author of the books A New Shoah and The Vatican Against Israel, lit a menorah at the Arch of Titus on the sixth night of the holiday, the start of the new month of Tevet.

Dozens of bystanders watched Meotti, who is not Jewish, but is a true lover of Zion and the Jewish people, a man who courageously fights anti-Semitism and is attempting to awaken Europe to its own changed reality before it is too late. 

These are Giulio's words to Arutz Sheva readers:

Dear friends,

The risk was high. You know what happens in Europe. 

I intended and did this gesture as a pure revolt against Europe's new anti-Semitism and as the answer of Jews and Judaism in front of Titus Gate, where you see the Jewish slaves bringing the golden Menorah to Rome. 

This is what I felt when lighting the candles in front of shocked people, that I was like an alien for them. 

But I also want to be sure that my gesture acts as a support for those of you who are trying to reclaim Har Habayit for the legitimate and exclusive owners of the holy place. The menorah should be lighted there, on the Temple Mount, not in Rome. 

I stood in the middle of three anti-Semitic monuments: Titus' Arch, which commemorates the theft of the Menorah; Constantine's Arch, which commemorates the first emperor who restricted the Jews' rights, and the Colosseum, which was built with the stones taken from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The place where I lit the candles is a kind of ground zero of ancient anti-Semitism. But also a gate to the new anti-Semitism.


As Meotti lit the menorah in Rome, another commemorative ritual connected to light and hailing from the period of the Holy Temple was coordinated to take place in Israel. Seven torches, as described in the Mishna, were lit by volunteers led by Professor Hillel Weiss and the Temple Institute in order to reenact the fixing of the calendar in the days of the Temple.

The lunar calendar is the key to celebrating the holidays described in the Bible, festivals meant to unify the Jewish people and help them rise to an ever higher spiritual level. In Temple times, light played an integral role in fixing the calendar. Every month, when those who watched for the first sight of the new moon and ran to tell the Sanhedrin were vetted by that body and found satisfactory, the news was spread by light.

A torch made of long sticks held together would be waved on a hilltop. The watcher on the next hilltop would like his torch and so on until the news reached Babylon in a matter of hours and the new month began at the same time for all of Israel, ensuring that all Jews kept the holidays on the same days. After the Roman conquest, Jews were dispersed too widely for the torch lights to reach everyone and the mathematical method of calculating lunar months began to be used instead. 

Sunday night, at the start of the new month of Tevet, the sixth night of the Festival of Lights, lights lit in Rome and in Jerusalem were a glowing prayer for Redemption.