I have always looked forward to lighting Hanukkah candles, especially the last few evenings of the holiday when they fill most or all of the menorah. To me, there is something so hypnotic, entrancing and soothing about watching firelight. When I was growing up, we always used an electric menorah with solid orange bulbs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it can’t compare to the dancing, bright flames that candles bring to the holiday. It seems much more joyous to me.
Over the years we have amassed quite a nice collection of Judaica, but my favorite items, by far, are the menorahs we have displayed in a collection from our travels. Each menorah reminds me of a special place or time in our lives, so using it is like reliving that memory. There are whimsical, ceramic ones from when our boys were young; a heavy glass one with Swarovski crystals, brought back from Rome’s Jewish ghetto; a modern, welded metal menorah from artist Gary Rosenthal; some large, some small, and some elaborate ones. But perhaps the most meaningful one to me is a simple, silver menorah that my grandparents brought with them from England over a century ago. It has a music box underneath its base that plays, “Ma’oz Tzur,” and the sweet melody is as enchanting as the flames.
As we light the candles this Hanukkah and approach the end of a year that was difficult for so many, may we all be surrounded by the warmth and joy of our tradition and loved ones. That is the true brightness to be found in dark times.
Jodi Danis is the executive assistant to the Atlanta Jewish Times’ publisher and managing publisher/editor.