Chanukah 2019 begins on Sunday evening. While the Chanukah story took place 2,000 years ago, this Festival of Lights has much to teach us today. Amidst varying interpretations of the holiday’s significance, we offer eight Chanukah takeaways for you this season.
8. Make things last
Religious teachings on Chanukah commemorate the story that a small quantity of oil, expected to light the Temple’s menorah for just one night, miraculously lasted eight. We play the sevivon (Chanukah dreidel or spinning top) whose four sides contain four Hebrew letters referencing the Chanukah miracle. Letters nun, gimel, hey, and shin correspond to the sentence “nes gadol haya sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there.”
While we celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting, let us consider how else we might stretch our resources to care for our planet. There are many environmental crises of today that can be mitigated by responsible consumerism.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Let the story of long-lasting oil inspire our commitment to sustainability in recognition that to care for the earth is to care for ourselves.
7. Be proud of who you are
Jewish resilience is central to Chanukah’s historic significance. The Chanukah story recalls Jewish religious oppression during the reign of Antiochus IV. Revolts against this reign led by the Maccabees were in the name of religious freedom, and ultimately the fight for freedom prospered.
Today, chanukiot (Chanukah candelabras or menorahs) are placed in the windowsill of Jewish homes in a public display of Jewish ritual. This reminds us to fully embrace all aspects of who we are.
This Chanukah let us not only have pride in our multi-faceted and ever-evolving identities, but also respect, learn about, and advocate for the identities of others as we celebrate not just Jewish resilience but also the diverse communities of which we are a part.
6. Sweeten the holiday for others
Giving gelt (Chanukah money) is a popular Chanukah custom. The roots of this tradition are varied. Some give to ensure others have the money needed for candles so that they may fulfill the candle lighting mitzvah (commandment), while others use the opportunity to educate their children about tzedakah (charity). Chocolate gelt is often used as a prize for children playing dreidel. In any case, this holiday spirit sweetens the season for everyone around us.
5. Rededicate to a cause
Chanukah translates to dedication, representing the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabee-led revolt which allowed Jewish people to maintain their identities.
After Chanukah ends, we welcome in the Gregorian New Year. With 2020 swiftly approaching, let us consider resolutions that make an impact. Chanukah is the perfect backdrop to rededicate to our passions.
Exercise your passion and generous spirit this holiday season. Consider donating to a cause that means the most to you. Coastal Roots Farm is raising $25,000 to feed 1,500 local families in need. Visit bit.ly/CRFfeeds19 to nourish your neighbor today.
4. Honor what is new
We light Chanukiah candles from left to right, with the first lit being the newest addition. Each night of Chanukah as we increase the number of candles, we build upon the previous night and intentionally add to what was. This building not only magnifies the amount of light that emits, but also encourages us to embrace change and what is new.
3. The shamash leads the way
The Chanukiah is made up of nine total branches consisting of eight candles and a shamash (literally, servant). The shamash is candle to light other candles. From it we can learn servant leadership: that uplifting those around us creates a ripple effect larger than if we were to stand alone.
During this season, consider who has been a shamash in your life and how you might be a shamash unto others.
2. A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness
Chanukah is celebrated during long winter nights, starting on the 25th day of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. During this seasonal darkness, the Chanukah candles remind us to recognize and shine our light.
We may also experience moments of darkness in the form of sadness or grief or in the face of evil. In these moments too let us recognize goodness and build hope. Even Anne Frank noticed “how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
Let us remember that light is not present without darkness, and that your unique light illuminates the world around you. Whether your light is kindness, generosity, or humor, shine bright.
1. Make space for awe
As we reflect upon political and religious narratives of Chanukah and commemorate both the long-lasting oil and Maccabee triumph amidst unfavorable odds, we cannot help but consider the everyday miracles we so often take for granted.
This year, join us as we pause in a moment of gratitude for the sacred coincidence that this history is part of the fabric of our past which has brought us to where we are today.
From the team at Coastal Roots Farm, we wish you a Chanukah Sameach (Happy Chanukah)!
Written by Kesha Spoor, Philanthropy and Communications Manager at Coastal Roots Farm