It’s Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah. . .

Last night was the first night of Chanukah. Good friends joined us last night to help celebrate this holiday (a minor holiday for Jews, nothing like Christmas for Christians.) Neither Lori nor Heather had ever celebrated Chanukah so I had the privilege of teaching them a little about this special celebration. Richard worked late, but when he got home, we lit the candles and Richard even sang a few bars of a time-honored Chanukah song.

The menorahs depicted in this photo were purchased a few days ago. Our silver menorahs are in storage and I was a bit sad that we couldn’t use them. But the sadness did not last very long, because we celebrate miracles and light on this holiday, not the trappings or elaborate Chanukiah. So, when we lit the candles last night, the light was a beautiful reminder of that time long ago when the Jewish people weren’t sure there would be light in the Temple, but through a miracle, the flame was lit and that flame lasted not one day, not two days, but eight days it shed its light for the people to see.

Here is what the Talmud has to say about Chanukah:

On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev begins the days of Chanukah, which are eight, on which lamentation for the dead and fasting are prohibited. For when the Greeks (Assyrians) entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Chashmonayim (Hasmonean dynasty) prevailed against them and defeated them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil which had the seal of the High Priest, which contained oil sufficient for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle occurred and they lit the Menorah (the Temple candelabrum) for eight days. The following years, these days were appointed as a holiday to sing praise and offer thanks. [Shabbes 21b]

Last night the festival began. On the first night we kindle one light. Each of us lights our own menorah. What you see in the photo above is that there are two kindled lights in each menorah; the light that is higher than the other, set apart from all other lights is called the shamash. The shamash is the “guard” light, and it is used to light the Chanukah lights. If one needs light to see by, we see by the shamash, not the Chanukah lights that are strictly for remembering the miracle that happened there (Temple in Jerusalem).

One other rule is that the Chanukiah should be lit by the doorway (or in our case, by the window) for all passersby to see. This is the one holiday that is “advertised” for the public. We do that to draw attention to the miracle that God performed on the first Chanukah, so that people will ask questions and give us the opportunity to share how God performed a miracle in the Temple.

So, come back each day of Chanukah and I hope to share more of our celebration with you. Thank you Lori and Heather for joining us last night, eating latkes with us, and in general enjoying the laughter and chatter of friendship.

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35 thoughts on “It’s Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah. . .

    1. Hi Barbara. The spelling difference is a matter of preference. I use the “Ch” because the pronunciation is not like “H,” but has a more gutteral sound from the back of the mouth. But since that sound is not in the English vocabulary, we find other ways to suggest that sound. Having said that however, “ch” is not representative of the correct pronunciation either. Therefore, the english spelling is left up to whatever people prefer. To spell the word correctly, one must write it in Hebrew. I do not have Hebrew fonts, and if I did, most of the world would not be able to read it. Hope I haven’t confused you more.
      Happy holidays.
      Cecelia

  1. I have never celebrated Hanukkah, but I would love to experience it and know more about it. Lovely post–and educational for those of us Christians who have been too busy celebrating Christmas to really understand what our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating at the same time. Happy Hanukkah, my friend!
    Kathy

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kamakshi. I hope to post about some aspect of Chanukah each of the eight days. Chanukah is a wonderful holiday, and I’m glad to share it with all who read my blog. You have shared so much about your country and religion, and likewise, I hope this will help people to understand us Jews a little better. Take care and have a glorious day!

  2. I have to admit that I do not know nearly as much about this festival as I would like to…
    thank you very much for sharing a bit about all these tradition(s), Ms. F.! And a very happy holiday to you and your family as well!
    🙂

  3. I remember in Greek Orthodox Sunday school they taught us about Chanukah every year (Greek Orthodoxy relies more on The Old Testament than a lot of other Christian sects). Thanks for the reminder!

      1. We learned all kind of things in Sunday school. The first five books of The Old Testament, which we call The Pentateuch, are ascribed to Moses and you might know them as The Torah. The G.O. Church is very much traditional in its teachings (they told us that Christ was a Rabbi, in those words) and, in essence, Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism. My wife was a Seventh Day Adventist and in that branch of Christianity they don’t celebrate Christmas, they go to church on Fridays, and follow a diet without pork or shellfish (but eating meat and dairy at the same meal is OK, so they don’t need two sets of dishes). She’s been corrupted by my influence now and for the eight or so years after our marriage in Montreal, we “compromised” (more of a choice of convenience and not a true compromise in terms of theology) and attended Evangelical Christian churches.

        1. Wow! I’m impressed. For real. I always tell folks that Jesus was one of our boys sent to set things straight in the Gentile world! (I may get in trouble for that, but, oh well . . . I’ve been in hot water plenty of times before and I’m still here to talk about it.) And many Seventh Day Adventist are descended from the Jews who were expelled from Spain beginning in 1492, many of whom became Adventist so they could “disguise” their continued observances of Jewish laws and traditions. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge. Very interesting. I enjoy learning about you and your family.

          Have a blessed holiday season, and a kind new year.

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