Wintertime haiku
New essay in Beyond Walls - and a chance to learn with me next summer!

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight at sundown we'll enter into the Festival of Lights, also known as the Festival of Rededication, also known as Chanukah. (Or Hanukkah. Whatever. It's a Hebrew word. Its real spelling is חֲנֻכָּה -- I think the English variant with the "ch" comes closest, but mileage varies.)


First candle in the chanukiyah.

(Chanukiyah may not be a familiar term for everyone. A chanukiyah is a special menorah made for Chanukah, with eight branches and a ninth candle for lighting the others, instead of six branches and a seventh candle for lighting the others which is what you would find on a menorah designed for giving light but not specifically for commemorating the miracle of the oil which burned for eight days.)

If you're looking for some good Chanukah-themed reading, I recommend Abigail Pogrebin's recent 'A Split in the Jewish Soul': Hanukkah Reconsidered in the Forward. It's part of her excellent "Wondering Jew" series, and it opens up some important questions about the holiday and what it means to us as modern Jews -- especially as we struggle with questions of innovation and change.

Or, on a different note: Chanukah Human Menorah. "Do-it-yourself menorahs are quite common this time of year. Take some sort of material, a little arts here, a little crafts there, and you have yourself a handcrafted, bespoke fixture of light. //  Can we apply these basic elements to transform our personal lives into menorahs? Can we, as human beings, become fixtures of light in everything we do?"

To all who celebrate, I wish a joyous Festival of Lights! May we all experience increased light during these dark days.