The first candle of Chanukah
Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the eight-day festival that celebrates a miracle of faith over two thousand years ago. One candle is lit daily for each day of the holiday. On this first night one candle was lit and tomorrow two candles will be lit until the last night when all eight candles are lit. The middle candle is the helper, or shamash, candle and lights all the others.
My prayer class was scheduled for tonight, but instead of our regular study we lit the menorah, sang songs and ate jelly doughnuts, one of the traditional foods of the holiday. Our wonderful rabbi spoke about the meaning of the holiday and it gave me new insights into the festival of light. I don't think I can do justice to his thoughts, but I'd like to share my notes with you.
Though there was just enough oil for one day, there is a place for miracles. We need to find the crucible of oil that's within us to light our spirit. The first step in finding our spiritual purpose is to light the first candle and encourage the light to grow. The miracle is that when we act in faith, help comes from Above, but it is our duty to act, and look for the light within us.
Besides the bears and snowfolks I have Chanukah items, including my favorite, my camel menorah. I bought this in Israel over twenty years and it brings back sweet memories.
This is the scene at my local bagel store/deli, which is a frequent stop on my retiree calendar. It's not fancy, but they have some of the best bagels in New York. After sampling coffee throughout the neighborhood I found I liked their coffee best of the dozen places within three or four blocks of my apartment. I've become a regular and three or four times a week I'm there to drink coffee and read the newspaper. The latkes, or potato pancakes, are in the pan to the left. I haven't tried either the latkes or doughnuts served here, but I bet they are good.
On this night when we celebrate light and faith I leave you with these lines from a song we learned this evening.
"Kindle my candle and my light, O G'd,
They will then shine forever."