The First Night of Hanukkah

Monday Morning Musings:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

–Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

“How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

–William Shakespeare, Portia, The Merchant of Venice (Act 5, Scene 1)

Season of miracles, season of light

A single candle glows bright

It’s the first night of Hanukkah.

 

I think of a candle shining in a window

And of the light traveling out into space.

The light of stars takes billions of years to reach us,

Traveling at 186,000 miles per second

But still I wonder if someone out there

Out there

Somewhere

Might see it.

 

 

As I fry latkes—

Lots and lots of latkes—

I listen to a Hanukkah CD.*

I listen to it every year,

But this year

I really listen

As the young girl asks her Uncle Joe

If miracles really happen?

He says it was a miracle when someone

Who was very sick got well

Or if a long war ends.

The child then says,

“What if there were no more wars.”

And Uncle Joe

Replies, “Yes, that would be a miracle.”

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Two pans; one spatula

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Season of violence, season of fear

A single candle brings cheer

It’s the first night of Hanukkah.

 

 

Rituals of thousands of years

The miracle of the oil

Burning for eight nights.

And we celebrate with latkes

And other delights.

Though of course

Long ago,

In lands torn by war,

As they were then

And are now,

There were no potatoes

Or candles packaged

Neatly in box.

 

But Hanukkah reminds us

Of rededication

And hope.

So at the darkest time of the year

We light a candle.

And then we light

Some more.

We celebrate

With family and friends

We eat too much

And we drink some wine.

We talk.

We laugh.

We sing and dance.

And rejoice–

Because in the face of darkness

We need to find the light.

 

And it doesn’t even matter

That my house and clothing

Smell of oil.

Because we have love

And laughter

And good food to eat.

Season of brightness, season of yearning

Lighting the candles till all of them are burning,

It’s the eight nights of Hanukkah.

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*A Child’s Hanukkah, The Jewish Wedding Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “The First Night of Hanukkah

    • Thanks, Marian. You know how my family–especially daughters and I–love our traditions. 🙂
      I will have to check out the episodes, too. I know I’ve seen bits and pieces, but I should just sit down and watch.

  1. Happy Hanukkah, Merril. Thank you for sharing your traditions with us. This is a beautiful post, and there’s something current, or at least something we need currently, about a tradition that is so old. Or at least it seems that way.

    The latkes look delicious. I have made them once or twice so I can well imagine the smell of oil and how it permeates everything.

  2. A happy Hanukkah to you and family Merril. Thank you for this post that reminds us to re-dedicate ourselves, and to believe in miracles as when someone who is ill, gets well .. Lovely photos too!

  3. Happy Hanukkah, Merril!! Guess what?! My son made latkes and BRISKET for his girlfriend last night. I’m beaming haha! I guess something rubbed off. Hope you’re enjoying your family and friends! Your latkes look delish!!!!

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