My Memories of Hanukkah

by on October 21st, 2010
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In every window was a menorah.

Of all the times I’ve celebrated Hanukkah in my life the most memorable experience was during my year abroad in Israel. My normal experience during this time of the year in the USA involves being reminded that I’m a minority as Christmas music blasts from every radio and everyone talks about their Christmas trees. I don’t have anything against people celebrating their traditional holidays but this holiday just isn’t one of mine. I can still remember that awkward moment in my childhood where I told the other children that there wasn’t a Santa Claus because my parents had explained the truth to me after I asked why Santa didn’t visit Jewish houses.

Being surrounded by Christmas has always made me feel like a bit of an outsider because I’m not able to fully embrace the spirit of the season (yes they call it the ‘Holiday Season’ but let’s be honest with ourselves,it’s really about Christmas 99% of the time when people use that phrase). Hanukkah has always been a special holiday for me because it was one of the holidays of my own people. It was something that I was able to call my own even though most people didn’t celebrate it. The spiritual and physical miracles told within the stories surrounding this holiday have always inspired me to look for the good in life even at its darkest moments. These feelings were felt even more strongly while I was living in Jerusalem during this holiday.

Unlike my time in the USA I was amazed to see menorahs everywhere! Hanukkah was being celebrated by everybody I came across. My most profound experience during this time was when I traveled to the Old City. When I arrived there my next stop was the Kotel (Also known as the Western Wall) so that I could say my prayers. Standing by the Kotel brought to mind the vast amount of time that had passed since the events that Hanukkah commemorates, occurred. Even though the battle for freedom that the Maccabeus had fought for had happened over 2000 years prior to my time standing at the Kotel in that moment it was as though I was connected across time to my ancestors who like the Maccabeus, kept to their G-d and traditions despite the pressure of oppression that they had faced throughout the ages. Am Yisrael Chai. Od Avinu Chai.

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