This week it is time to dig out our menorah, dreidels and get ready for the Festival of Lights.
Yes, Chanukah begins next Sunday at sundown. Chanukah is a holiday about a miracle that happened long ago. JL and I have been working really hard to try to show our boys the meaning of this miracle. We read lots of Chanukah books, sing songs, bake/make traditional goodies, and try to make it less about gifts. It may be hard to believe, but traditionally Chanukah was not a time for gift giving. Over time, it has gotten that way because of the proximity of the holiday with Christmas.
Each night for Chanukah, we light our menorah as a family and sit watching the candles burn bright while eating our dinner. A new tradition that we have started with our boys is to play Chanukah music during this time. Of course we love Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song, but a new favorite is Hanukkah Blessings by Barenaked Ladies. The song sends chills down my spine. It is absolutely beautiful and includes the blessings that we say over the candles each night. The songs have helped NHL, now five, learn the blessings.
How lucky are we that we
Have lights so that we can see
All though the day is done
What a miracle that a spark
Lifts these candles out of the dark
Every evening one by one
Until the end of Hanukkah
With the jingle bells and the toys
And the TV shows and the noise
It’s easy to forget
At the end of the day
Our whole family will say
These words for Hanukkah:
ADONAI Elohaynu Melekh h’olom
asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu
l’hadlik nehr shel hannukah
We light the candles for Hanukkah
We remember how Maccabees
Fought so all of us could be free
So we celebrate
On this festival of the lights
There’s a joyful time every night
Where we illuminate
The candles of Hanukkah
Barukh atah ADONAI
Elohaynu Melekh ha’olom
She’asah neesim l’avotaynu
bayamim hahem ba’zman hazeh
JL and I also love to share our traditions with NHL’s peers. In the past, we have gone in to celebrate with his classes. JL went to NHL’s daycare to play the dreidel game with them. Last year, I went to NHL’s Chanukah party at school.
This year, NHL’s kindergarten teacher asked me to come in next Wednesday to do something with the kids. I believe they are buying the materials to make potato latkes. We already bought each of the children their own dreidel. I plan on playing the game with them and doing some sort of craft.
Last year, we were lucky enough to celebrate part of Chanukah with our extended family. My parents had a Chanukah party during one of the nights. We had a wonderful time. JSL and Cousin S were celebrating their first Festival of Lights. My how the two of them have grown over the last year!
As you can see, we feel that it is very important to show the boys where our Jewish heritage is from and how to carry it on. We have been doing this since December 2003 when NHL celebrated his first Chanukah.
It is our hope that our two boys will carry on these traditions for generations to come.