Each December, I tingle in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season. I savor it all…the songs, the sentiment, the TV specials, the homey smells of cinnamon, apple cider, and cookies, and the spirit of tzedakah.
I’m Jewish, born and raised in New York, married to a South African man who is the son of an Evangelist minister.
When it comes to Hanukkah, menorahs are kind of a big deal. You’ll have to look at it for eight days straight, so you better find one you really like. Here are our favorites from ModernTribe.
This Glass Menorah ($24.00) is both elegant and a bargain. It provides a simple base so you can get creative with colorful candles. Even better, its clear design prevents a clashing with any of your holiday decor. Read the rest of this entry →
Hanukkah has come and gone, and we hope all of our readers had eight great nights. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our Kveller Family Photo Album to see some great Hanukkah snapshots (and send in your own to email@example.com). And as our final send-off to the Festival of Lights, here’s the manicure we’ve all been waiting for: Amy Keyishian’s final night.
Though it seems like we’ve been talking about it for eight years, the first night of Hanukkah is finally here. Before you stuff your face with latkes (or cupcakes or cookies or cheese) and unwrap some presents (if that’s what you’re into), you may want to light the menorah. And since it’s been at least year a since you’ve done that, here’s a refresher course on just how it’s done. Who better to learn from than our favorite animated fellow, Todd, and his magical friend, um, God.
How to light the Hanukkah candles:
We’re also happy to provide you with this cheat sheet of blessings for lighting the candles. Remember, all three blessings are said on the first night, and then only the first and second blessings are said on the seven nights to follow.
The First Blessing
Praised are You,
Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who made us holy through Your commandments
and commanded us
to kindle the Hannukah lights.
The Second Blessing
Praised are You,
Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors
in those ancient days
at this season.
The Third Blessing (First Night Only)
Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
Growing up, entertaining was always such a fun part of the winter holidays. My mother invited family and friends over on Christmas Eve to eat shrimp cocktail, lasagna, and cookies while playing board games. (In case you haven’t read my previous posts, I converted to Judaism a while back.) As my brothers and I grew older it was almost more fun than Christmas morning. Being Jewish hasn’t lessened my desire to host friends in our home and having a family of my own has fueled a strong desire to establish new holiday traditions.
But learning about Judaism (and how, what and why we celebrate things) can be a process. For example, I’m four years in and I’d rather pluck out my armpit hair one by one than deal with the stress of hosting my own Passover seder. The High Holidays don’t exactly elicit “let’s get drunk and eat fun-shaped cookies while playing Jenga” kind of feelings. And while a Purimcostume party does sound like fun, I think Hanukkah is the easiest time to celebrate with non-Jewish friends and family.
(Disclaimer: I’m assuming since you’re reading this blog that you probably pee when you laugh and have sticky fingerprints on your refrigerator door, so the following advice is aimed at a kid-friendly party. Feel free to jazz it up if you have the luxury of a babysitter and an alcohol tolerance.)
1. What’s blue and white with light all over? Set the mood for a fun night (afternoon) of Hanukkah celebration. Play The Maccabeats “Candlelight” on repeat or check out Kveller’s top 10 list for some inspiration. Find a blue plastic tablecloth (reuse it next year) and some white napkins. Blue cake plates optional (if you’re super fancy you might be able to find Hanukkah plates but really, blue will do.) If your kiddos are old enough to craft you could make these adorable tissue paper lanterns. Lastly, pull out your menorah and a few dreidels. (Note: vacuuming the carpet and wiping the fingerprints off the fridge are optional but you might want to move the clean laundry waiting to be folded from the couch into your bedroom and close the door.) Read the rest of this entry →
Kveller wants to know: where’s the craziest place you ever lit it?
We’re talking about your menorah, of course. With Hanukkah rolling around, we want to know if you’ve ever wound up lighting the candles in an unusual place. So far among our staff, “cruise ship bathroom” is in the lead, but we’re dying to hear any weird Hanukkah stories that you all have.
If you’ve got one, share it in the comments section below. We’ll choose a winner, who will be sent an assortment of 8 books about Hanukkah from Kar-Ben, including new titles Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles and Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap. If you do the math, that’s one book for each night of Hanukkah.
Leave your menorah-lighting comment by next Tuesday, December 13th and we’ll announce a winner shortly thereafter.