In helfman

By Rabbi Jordan Helfman.

How do you prepare for Chanukah?

There are the obvious physical items that need to be seen to.  Gifts need to be wrapped, mailed or ordered for all of the nieces and nephews.  A place needs to be cleared where there will be no danger of fire catching, and still clearly visible in a window.  In my house three children and various chanukiyot, everyone needs their own menorah and the right candles to fit.

Dark chocolate gelt, oranges, latkes, applesauce, and sufganiyot all need making or purchasing so that the holiday comes with the right smells, tastes and textures.

But once this physical preparation is done, what else needs preparing?

For most of us, Chanukah is not about a personal spiritual journey – but here are two ways we can think about meaning making on Chanukah:

Looking to the future:  What is it that we find meaningful in Judaism that we want our children and grandchildren to treasure?  In this holiday season we often get wrapped up in the ritual, without thinking about how we can imbue ritual with meaning.

  1. Spend some time and think for yourself Why be Jewish?   Once you have an answer which gives you purpose, think about how you can integrate it into the holiday.
  2. Consider participating in the Fifth Night of Giving.  This is a night where kids are taught to give back, and give some of the tzedakah monies they have collected throughout the year to a good cause.
  3. Check to make sure your kids or grandkids are receiving the free PJ Library books and music.  Click here for signup information.

Recognize the personal journeys:  Many of our loved ones are engaged in a journey of identity, as they struggle to honour the traditions their spouse grew up with.  How can we make sure that our kids are not missing the traditions that we grew up with and love during the holiday season, and still keep peace in the house?

Even if this is not a personal question, this is a question that many of our relatives or relatives by marriage are asking at  this season.

Chanukah is about maintaining our traditions against pressures to assimilate, and by being open to talking through this miracle of Chanukah we can bring more peace into our homes.

Even those without a personal journey of this type can use this time of year as a way of reflecting on one of the big Jewish questions: How can Judaism bring more light to this winter darkness?

  1. Come to any gathering, including services or study to see the community.
  2. Our Tuesday evening services (6:00pm) conclude with an amazing educational group which is guided by a grief counselor and a member of clergy.
  3. Know that our Bikkur Cholim committee is happy to visit ([email protected]), and there is support from Jewish Family and Child (416.638.7800).

I know that our congregational Chanukah Celebration on Friday, December 30th at 5:15pm will be a great time to see our congregational family. Click here to register.

I am looking forward to seeing you there as we make this Chanukah a meaningful one.

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