Chanukah Traditions

In my family, Chanukah was (and is) observed primarily as a children’s holiday. No gifts are exchanged from children to adults or between adults. Chanukah, when I was growing up, was about lighting candles (for many years these were the only blessings I could say in Hebrew because I had memorized them), and eating pre-made latkes (potato pancakes). My mother is generally a good cook but she cannot bake and she cannot make “Jewish food”, but we kids got gifts — until we reached college age. After that, it was just candles and latkes.  We were taught that the heart of the holiday was the struggle for religious freedom, which resonated with what I learned about American history in school. Chanukah wasn’t just “the Jewish Christmas.”

When I became an adult, I lit candles in my own home, usually without the latkes and definitely without the gifts.  I fell in … Continue reading

Chanukah and Our Little Miracles

Last year I lit the candles before dinner, and she would sit at the table, look over to the menorah, and sign out “ohhhhh”. She thought it was pretty. This year she selects the candles each night. And while I have tried to get her to help me light the candles, she gets a little frightened when the time comes, maybe because I am trying to tell her to hold the shamos candle at the bottom, not the top. But she is fascinated watching the flames, and watching the candles melt. The first night we waited till all the candles were out to go up to bed, but last night she needed a bath. And one of the first things she said after we came downstairs this morning was “the candles melted, they’re all gone”. This is the first year I’ve done presents each night, and she is only marginally … Continue reading

Chanukah and Our Little Miracles

Last year I lit the candles before dinner, and she would sit at the table, look over to the menorah, and sign out “ohhhhh”. She thought it was pretty. This year, at 2.5, she selects the candles each night. And while I have tried to get her to help me light the candles, she gets a little frightened when the time comes, maybe because I am trying to tell her to hold the shamos candle at the bottom, not the top. But she is fascinated watching the flames, and watching the candles melt. The first night we waited till all the candles were out to go up to bed, but last night she needed a bath. And one of the first things she said after we came downstairs this morning was “the candles melted, they’re all gone”. This is the first year I’ve done presents each night, and she is … Continue reading

Chanukah and Our Little Miracles

Last year I lit the candles before dinner, and she would sit at the table, look over to the menorah, and sign out “ohhhhh”. She thought it was pretty. This year, at 2.5, she selects the candles each night. And while I have tried to get her to help me light the candles, she gets a little frightened when the time comes, maybe because I am trying to tell her to hold the shamos candle at the bottom, not the top. But she is fascinated watching the flames, and watching the candles melt. The first night we waited till all the candles were out to go up to bed, but last night she needed a bath. And one of the first things she said after we came downstairs this morning was “the candles melted, they’re all gone”. This is the first year I’ve done presents each night, and she is … Continue reading

Chanukah Traditions

In my family, Chanukah was (and is) observed primarily as a children’s holiday. No gifts are exchanged from children to adults or between adults. Chanukah, when I was growing up, was about lighting candles (for many years these were the only blessings I could say in Hebrew because I had memorized them), and eating pre-made latkes (potato pancakes). My mother is generally a good cook but she cannot bake and she cannot make “Jewish food”, but we kids got gifts — until we reached college age. After that, it was just candles and latkes.  We were taught that the heart of the holiday was the struggle for religious freedom, which resonated with what I learned about American history in school. Chanukah wasn’t just “the Jewish Christmas.”

When I became an adult, I lit candles in my own home, usually without the latkes and definitely without the gifts.  I fell in … Continue reading

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