I consider myself a dedicated yet anxious Jewish mom. I’m dedicated because I would like my children to have a Jewish upbringing that connects them to our collective stories, history, and values – and I’m anxious because I’m never quite sure whether I’m accomplishing that goal.
I grew up loving this holiday – until I learned the dark side and felt like a kid discovering that there’s no Santa Claus. It turns out Hanukkah is, in part, a tale of Jew vs. Jew.
I grew up going to services. A lot of services. I was adept at counting the ceiling tiles, reaching into the thousands as my grasp of numbers grew more sophisticated. The melodies became part of my life soundtrack; I hummed them as my mind wandered during the rabbi’s sermon.
According to Rashi, we light Hanukkah candles to “publicize the miracle.” What exactly is the miracle we’re publicizing – and what’s the best way for us to do so today?
Two blessings are chanted or recited every night of Hanukkah. The first is a blessing over the candles themselves. The second blessing expresses thanks for the miracle of deliverance. A third blessing—the Shehecheyanu prayer, marking all joyous occasions in Jewish life—is chanted or recited only on the first night.