What I remember most about Hanukkah when I was a child is lighting the candles each night and how excited I was to see the flames flicker in the beautiful menorah. I also loved the potato latkes – and still do. I liked them best with sour cream and applesauce – and still do. They were messy to make, but that was part of the fun, and preparing them with my mother was an extra bonus since we did not often cook together.
I like the explanation at shiva.com, in the article on Hanukkah under Customs and Rituals: “The festival of Hanukkah is both a time of celebration and a time of remembrance of the mighty acts of the Lord and the blessings to his people. It is a time of food and festivity, of candles and celebration. Because it is also a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple, the festival is also a time of worship, reverence and remembrance.”
I found inspiration in Rabbi Goldie Milgram’s article, “8 Ideas for a Meaningful Hanukkah,” at reclaimingjudaism.org, and Lauren Feinstein’s “8 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for Hanukkah,” at onwardstate.com.
So I decided to adapt these and write my own “5 Ways to Enjoy Hanukkah”:
1. Light the way: Enjoy the preparation
The process can be as enjoyable as the event if we prepare ahead of time. This is a great time to celebrate with friends and family. So find the songbooks and recipes, and buy that Hanukkah gelt.
2. Light up your life: Celebrate
This could mean singing Hanukkah songs, playing games with the dreidel, and eating latkes and chocolate Hanukkah gelt.
3. Light up the memories: Tell stories
Tell the story of Hanukkah to your children and grandchildren and/or read about it together. Be animated and encourage participation.
4. Light the way for others: Giving back
Since Hanukkah is a celebration of light, which is what saved our people, we can use our own deeds to light the way for others. This includes helping neighbors, volunteering your time, and finding ways to bring smiles, laughter and joy to others.
5. Light up inside your heart and soul: Reflect and meditate
This is a great time to watch the lights flicker as a way to calm the mind through meditation and gratitude.
PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 3 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM and on Mondays at 2 p.m. on voiceamerica.com. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.