I was talking to a friend this morning, who celebrates being both Jewish and Buddhist. We talked about the early arrival of Hanukkah this year, a celebration of lights at a time when we most need light and all of its many facets of love, compassion, peace, strength, gratitude, wisdom, and hope.

Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, accompanied by special prayers and delicious foods. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple.

Hanukkah revolves a around lighting a nine-branched menorah, known in Hebrew as the hanukkiah.  Each day a candle is lit after sundown; the ninth candle, called the shamash (helper), is used to light the others.
Judah Maccabee, who helped lead the rebellion to re-claim the Temple, called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah—the gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night.
Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving time to find a fresh supply. This wondrous event inspired the proclamation of an annual eight-day festival.
The menorah is lit while reciting blessings. Each night, the newest candle is lit first, and lighting is continued from left to right. Since olive oil played a crucial part in the victory of a small band of faithful Jews, fried foods like potato latkes and deep-fried doughnuts are enjoyed during this holiday.

No matter what faith we identify with or what we are growing through this holiday season, the light is available to us all. For me, on this first day of Hannukah, I am reminded of love as the light.

“Only when we have compassion for ourselves, can we truly listen to another person. So we embrace our pain, sorrow, and loneliness with the energy of mindfulness. The understanding and insight born from this practice will help transform the suffering inside us. We feel lighter; we begin to feel warmth and peace inside.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, from Fidelity: How to Create a Loving Relationship That Lasts 


Love is the realm of “miracles” which are really divine order, seeing the reality of Spirit.

Our temples are also the souls in which we live, move and have our being. When we center in the truth, we realize the eternal light of our being – not merely for us but for others.
As we navigate the pandemic and other stressful situations, let us value the power of the light and have the courage to shine our lights for all to see, to know and to experience.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s