The Calabasisher Rebbe, the RiPiK, teaches: One does not fully celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, unless one does 11 rituals over the 8 nights.
- Lights the candles and puts the Chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah) in the window to publicize the miracle. Print out the Chanukah blessings.
- Tell the story of Chanukah. This is a festival when Jewish values triumphed over Greek pagan practice, when religious freedom overcame the impulse for religious coercion. An important reminder that America too is home of religious freedom. Download the story.
- Sing Chanukah songs. We transform king Antiochus’ impulse to annihilate the Jews through simcha, the impulse to celebrate life and Jewish living. Singing is the glue that binds us to the Jewish soul. Get Cantor Cotler’s Favorite Chanukah Songsheet.
- Eat latkes or sufganiot (jelly-filled donuts). Both are cooked in oil, allowing us to consume the message of the Chanukah tale, that oil enough for only one night lasted for 8 nights. By playing with our food (or better, eating it), we become the oil, prepared as Jews to outshine any impulse to give up our values. Read the recipes.
- Give presents. Cool to give, cool to get. But be wary of becoming too materialistic.
- Have Parents’ Night. Set aside one night only for kids to give to parents. By insisting on this and helping facilitate it, we teach our children the values of kibud av v’em (honoring one’s father and mother), and ahava (love means giving, not just getting).
- Give Tzedakah (charitable giving). Set aside one night for only giving tzedakah. Everyone contribute something, then as a group choose recipients and amounts. Search the web for do gooder organizations. Here’s my 8 ideas for 8 nights of tzedakah.
- Celebrate with family and friends. ‘Nuff said?!
- Celebrate with community. Congregation Or Ami’s multigenerational Chanukah celebration on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm is open to the entire community. Bring a Chanukiyah to light. Enter a plate of homemade latkes into our Latke Baking Contest.
- Play the dreidel game. Through sacred play, we reteach that Nes Gadol Haya Sham, a great miracle happened there. Play with chocolate gelt, raisins and nuts or M&M’s, and the spoils are tasty too. Review the rules for play.
- Remember the (second) Miracle. Yes, that oil enough for one night lasted for 8. But as significantly, think about that one Jewish priest in the Jerusalem Temple who, knowing there was not enough oil to last until new oil could be made, lit the menorah nonetheless. From him we learn the eternal Jewish value of Tikvah, hope. Jewish families never give up hope because we believe that goodness is just a night or 8 away.
Resist the urge to allow Chanukah to become just 1 minute of candle lighting and 3 minutes of gift opening. Celebrate the Festival with these 11 rituals.
What did I miss? Do tell!?!
For everything you need to celebrate Chanukah, take a look at Congregation Or Ami’s Chanukah resources page at www.orami.org/Chanukah.