Whether you’ve got a gaggle of kids or an empty nest, whether your hanukkiyah (Hanukkah menorah) is lit up by candles or oil or electricity, whether you prefer applesauce or sour cream, here are 8 kosher ingredients that will light up your home this week.
We eat latkes, not to remember Irish potato farmers, but to remember the miracle of the oil. Sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts) also quality. A miracle is an event that points us toward awe. At Hanukkah, we are in awe of many things: the oil that lasted for 8 nights, the victory of the weak over the mighty, the amazing fact that oil burns at all! Take a few moments to think of and share something that fills you with awe. Savor it.
While we may associate “gelt” with (bad) chocolate, the coins were once a holiday tip for the local laborers. Before we had gift giving, Hanukkah was a time for tsedaka and other acts of generosity. Some families dedicate (at least) one night of Hanukkah to tsedaka: choosing a cause for a Hanukkah contribution, donating a toy to a needy child, serving at a soup kitchen or food pantry.
3. Lights in the window: Courage
The Hanukkah lights are meant to be displayed to the world. In some places and times in the past, it took courage simply to shine the lights where the (non-Jewish) neighbors could see. For some of us, Hanukkah is a time when we dare to be different. For some of us, we need courage to stand up for what we believe in. Do something courageous this Hanukkah. One new idea: add a #BlackLivesMatter message to your Hanukkiyah and share a photo online.
4. Blessings: Gratitude
A blessing is a public acknowledgement of gratitude. We recite our blessings out loud so that others hear them and know how grateful we are. In addition to the blessings over the candles, what other ways can you express gratitude? Write a thank you note, instead of an email. Call someone to tell them how grateful you are for their love/friendship/help/support. Thank the next person you see for any good reason at all.
5 Music: Pleasure
Contrary to popular opinion, the Dreidl Song is not the height of Jewish Hanukkah music. And Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights” is already a throwback. Whatever kind of music gives you pleasure, enjoy and share!
- Listen or sing along to Ma’oz Tzur, Peter Paul & Mary’s “Light One Candle” and all the old favorites in Hebrew, Yiddish and English.
- Sing a Ladino song: Ocho Kandelikas by Flory Jagoda.
- Listen to the best Hanukah music ever from The Leevees.
- Enjoy a little classical music: “Judas Maccabeus,” an oratorio by Handel (who wrote a lot more than “The Messiah”).
A lot of us get together with family and friends on Hanukkah. Enjoy their company! Imagine that you are meeting them for the first time, and let go of any old grudges, high (or low) expectations, or complaints. Find out something you never knew about them before. Smile/Laugh/Cry with them.
Not everyone has family nearby or friends who share Hanukkah with them. Think about a person who is likely to be alone this week and invite them to be with you. (contact Benita if you’d like a temple directory to help you reach out).
Hanukkah can’t be all serious. Have fun. (Remember: Being Jewish is fun! Especially on Hanukkah.)
Wishing you a delicious Hanukkah of awe, generosity, courage, gratitude, pleasure, silence, kindness and joy!