Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In the Moment: Happy Chanukah

Last night cubes and I lit our menorah for the first night of Chanukah. Even though it's a minor holiday, I was excited as it's my first holiday as a Jew. It was nice to spend a quiet hour with him eating dinner without a TV show playing in the background as the candles burned down.
Happy Chanukah!

The celebration begins by putting the candles into the menorah from right to left. (The candle in the middle is the shamash or helper candle. It's used to light the other candles.) On the first night of Chanukah, three blessings are said before the menorah is lit. (In the collage above, the two blessings that are said each night appear below the menorah.) From Chabad.org, the three Chanukah blessings are:
  1. (Said only on the first night) Phonetic pronunciation:
    Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam
    a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.
    English translation: Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
  2. Phonetic pronunciation:
    Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam
    she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.
    English translation: Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
  3. Phonetic pronunciation:
    Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam
    she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.
    English translation: Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.
Chabad.org also has an audio recording of the three prayers if you're curious how the Hebrew sounds. Once the blessings are said, the candles are lit from left to right (newest to the oldest) with the shamash.

This time last year, Rabbi Adar was teaching my Introduction to the Jewish Experience class the prayers for Chanukah and explaining the back story for the minor holiday. (I'll share the history in my next post. I asked cubes when we should let Gates know about the Maccabees and the slaughter of the Syrians, and he said from the beginning so that she can be that precocious child in Hebrew School who knows all the answers.) The students responsible for snacks had brought in homemade latkes with applesauce and someone had brought wine. We lit the menorah at the beginning of class and watched carefully as the candles burned down. We even played some dreidel - looking back I can't believe I was having trouble matching four letters from the Hebrew alphabet with their names. (Thanks to my recent Beginning Prayerbook/Biblical Hebrew class I can easily do that now.) My class notes on the phonetic pronunciation of the prayers are also comical.

Tonight I'm swinging by Saul's in Berkeley on my way home and picking up latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). (I'll share photos from our fried feast this week.) I can't wait!

How are you celebrating Chanukah?

Happy Chanukah!
Eden
 
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

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