I don't have a Menorah for Chanukah
Living in nature is living with the beauty around you 24/7. Living on an island has its own uniqueness and appeal, as a destination for vacation and relaxation, a no worries time period. Living in Hawaii is considered living in paradise (however, people forget that even in paradise one must work like anyone else).And yet, it is the home of the active volcano where Goddess Pele spouts her lava to the ocean, where you can see and feel creation happens.
Here I am, an Israeli Jewish girl that arrived over 30 years ago to this island, just to wonder, how do I celebrate the holidays here? There were a few stores, literally a few stores; meeting here a Jew was almost a non-existent one.
Now remind you, there are no stores that carry Jewish products. Asking the people working at the market about any products was like introducing me from another planet. We had a great bakery here. The baker was very accomplished and we all loved his pastries. On one of my visits to the bakery, I asked if he bakes Rye bread. He looked at me in dismay and replied: “I never heard of it!”
Also, remember there was no Internet, no websites, if you found stores on the mainland, what a success just to realize that shipping over here was more than double the cost of the product itself.
So what do you do?
The real issue became when we were raising the children. One of the things I realized very quickly is that you must be creative. If you want to have or do anything you must create it, so I did.
I started a nonprofit organization for Jewish education. The few children in our Jewish community came mostly from intermarried parents who wanted their children to grow up Jewish. We celebrated Shabbats together; we baked anything from Hamentachens, Matzah, bread etc.
Chanukkah was one of our most loved holidays- The festival of lights.
As we all know Hanukkah is the celebration of winning the fights against the Greeks who ruled Israel at that time and retaking the Second Temple in Jerusalem. To celebrate this glorious event, a special dedication ceremony was performed. The word Hanukkah comes from the three letter roots
Chet ח Nun נ Chaf כ which means "to dedicate, to commemorate, to refurbish a place". Another most popular use of the word in Hebrew is the concept of Chanukah Bait which means a house warming celebration.
Your home is the place you always come to, it’s your safe place, it’s your scared place. I know we take our home for granted. That’s where we live, but you live in a home not a house. By having a Chanukat Bait you transform it from house to Home. And the ceremony of placing the Mezuzah on the door post is one of its signs.
Hanukkah is from the three letters word Chet ח Nun נ Chaf כ . It has the same root as the word Chinuch - חינוך means to teach, to discipline.
Hanukkah is the celebration of the dedication of the second Temple in Jerusalem. We dedicate something new to rededicate it like the Temple.
When a child grows up, whether at home or school, we as parents and teachers dedicate ourselves, our time and knowledge and energy to raising the child to become an educated person, a person that will become an asset to his family and the community and above. We educate to raising children teaching them about our roots, our history, values, heritage as well as teaching how to behave, how to do Tikkun Olam,(the concept of helping “repair the world”), the importance of education in all subjects and aspects of our lives. And of course just as important is academics and the arts.
What is wonderful is the yearly consistency of our celebrations. Every year we repeat the same story, the same customs, and the same food. It’s the repetition that registers and stamps the holiday in our memory and consciousness.
So how one educate children on our island?
By being creative.
Take advantage of your natural resources. Use lava rocks tp make menorahs. Whether it’s one rock or several ones, place them in any order you like, and who says you cannot embellished with flowers around it to make it more festive?
One of my favorites Menorahs was the menorah the children made from clay. They created figures with the clay and decorated them with beaded strings as if they were the Maccabeem. Then they glued small bolts on the wooden platform. Then the Maccabeem figures were attached. They also made the Dreidels to match.
The grand finale’ was our yearly celebration in my home. We got together, all the families and friends. Every child brought their Menorah. We made sure every adult attending had a menorah too. After sunset we all recited the blessings and lit the candles. We had about 20 Menorahs. Can you imagine what a spectacular sight it was? I forgot to mention we placed all Menorahs on the railing of our open lanai (porch in Hawaiian). We were in nature, the skies were clear and the only lights you saw were the lights of the Menorahs, the Moon and stars.
May these most needed lights bring us a new era to choose to rededicate and bring light into our lives, our families, community and the rest of the world.
We need these flames to heal us physically also internally, heal us from within. These flames are to shine and bring light rather flames that destroy us.
This Hanukkah I choose to see only light, see the good whether small or big, see the goodness in everything. Yes, it will be an educational exercise.
As we say “What you think about, You bring about”
If you'll look closely,
after25 years we lost a Macabee. There are only three Macabbeem left on that side.
DREIDEL- When I grow up in Israel we played with a dreidel like all kids. The four letters on our dreidel were Nun נ Gimel ג Hee' ה Pe פ The acronym for" Nes Gadol Haya Po" a Big Miracle Happened Here"
The first time I saw a dreidel in here in the USA, I was very surpried. It had the four letters Nun נ Gimel ג Hee' ה Shin, ש The acronym for "Nes Gadol Haya Sham" A Big Miracle Happened THERE. (not here... it happened in Israel)
It took me a moment to realize that there is an "Israeli" dreidel and "Non-Israeli" dreidel. The only difference is one letter. One letter that makes the whole difference.
MENORAH vs. CHANUKIA The Menorah is the lamp with only 7 branches. That was the Menorah at the Temple, which became one of our main symbols of our faith The Chanukia is the lamp with the 9 branches. 8 candles for the 8 days of the miracle and the Shamash -that candle that helps light the rest of the candles.