Hanukkah is a time for mitzvah

Hanukkah (or Chanukkah) is the Jewish eight-day “festival of lights.” There are many traditions aside from lighting candles on the menorah, which is a mitzvah itself. Nightly families light the menorah and say special prayers.

The menorah holds nine flames, one for each night, and the attendant used to light each candle. On the first night, we light just one flame and by the eighth night all eight lights shine. It’s customary to recite special blessings along with the candle lighting and to sing traditional songs afterward.

While not a major holiday in the Jewish faith, Hanukkah holds a special place in the hearts of many families. 

Perform a mitzvah

Mitzvah and the plural mitzvot are good deeds. Many families take the tradition further with acts of kindness and good deeds during this time of celebration. Families decide together how to celebrate each night of the holiday – whether with activities, cooking, or by bringing a social justice element to the holiday.

Some families like to exchange gifts during Hanukkah, and many families also use the opportunity to give charitable gifts. Designating the sixth evening as the Candle of Righteousness offers the chance to learn about poverty or other social justice issues and to make a donation or engage in other activities related to a cause that is important to you and/or your family.

Mitzvah ideas during 2020

Coronavirus makes family gatherings more difficult and may cause angst within the family. Consider starting some new traditions this year.

  • Place the menorah in a window as a symbol of hope and affirmation.
  • Share the candle lighting by Skype or Zoom. Technology gives us the ability to be together even when we’re apart.
  • Pray for peace and reconciliation under the glow of the menorah.
  • Have the family choose a special charity and send a donation.
  • Challenge the kids to find creative ways to do something for others.
  • Enjoy traditional foods – the Hanukkah miracle involved oil and it’s traditional to eat foods fried in oil. Make potato latkes (pancakes) garnished with applesauce or sour cream if you want please the family. Learn to make Potato Latkes.
  • Collect gently worn clothing that your family has outgrown to give to the needy.
  • Forgo your own gifts and shop for a family in need.
  • Share kind words and Hanukkah greetings with cards or emails to family far away.

Kansas City HospiceKansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is certified by the National Institute of Jewish Hospice (NIJH). We provide culturally-sensitive care to all people and honor the beliefs of each and every person.

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