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Rabbi Lader
Rabbi Lader

The Light of the Chanukah Candles…

Before we know it, it will be time to bring out our Chanukah menorahs, candles, and dreidels as we prepare for our celebrations of Chanukah. In the introduction to her book “How to Spell Chanukah… and other holiday dilemmas”, Emily Franklin writes: “… [What I have come to realize] is that what matters to us – to the kids, to our family – is making the holiday our own. We have traditions: latkes, gelt, a night when one child chooses a charity for us to donate to and we skip gifts, rotating years for each member of the family to pick a cause. The kids decorate the dining room with Jewish stars, some crayon-colored, others coated with glue and sparkles. And when we light the candles… there is magic in the room. Each night is different; each year is, too. Variations on a theme.”

The light of the candles reminds us of days long ago.

They remind us of the fight of the Maccabees for religious freedom.

They remind us of our childhood experiences as we gathered together with family around the menorah, singing Chanukah songs, with the “eau d’latke” aroma in the air.

The light of the candles can remind us of our adult experiences – standing with friends around the dining room table, lighting the candles, singing the blessings, spinning the dreidels.

The light of the candles can remind us of standing with our children and nieces and nephews and grandchildren – or Skype-ing with them – to light the candles, and sing the blessings and Chanukah songs… And the light of the candles can be – not from days long ago, but our first experience of Chanukah.

Whatever the light, there is indeed magic in the room.

This year, Chanukah begins on the evening of Tuesday, December 12th. Before you light the candles, prepare for the magic. Light the shamash and the first candle. Sing the blessings, including the Shehechayanu – giving thanks to the Eternal for being filled with life and sustenance and arriving at this special time. Be thankful for religious freedom – and consider what you can do to spread your light of goodness out into the world. And be thankful for family and friends. And enjoy your own traditions.

With wishes for a Chag urim sameyach – a joyous festival of lights,


Rabbi Enid C. Lader
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