This Hannukah eve seems like as good a time as any to talk about my rather unusual email address: hannukahLinda... I mean, it's unusual for an Anglican. Hannukah is not, after all, on the liturgical calendar.
It started out as a fun nick-name that some of the students in Hebrew School called me. We sang Ladino a song entitled Ocho kandelikas and the very first line is Hannukah Linda esta aqui..., and so for a few weeks I became Hannukah Linda. Then an adult friend started joking around with it. And, I even called myself that a few times.
It was later, along about Tu B'Shevat I'd say, that I thought about the significance of Hannukh and saw it's realavance to me.
You all know the Hannukah story of Roman oppression, the resistance, desecration, and returning. If you don't, Google it. It's a grand story and I couldn't do it justice here on the blog.
But there's another story that only I can tell: my own. It's tale of oppression, resistance and failure, desecration and redemption. Like the real story of Hannukah there are some battles, and there's some blood, and some times when it looked as if all was lost.
And what does God give me? A tiny little dab of Hannukah oil.
See, here's the thing, it's hard to celebrate Sukkas in a foreign land. The Hebrews were having a hard time of it. You can't shake the lulav in a state of oppression, after all. They'd been in exile, treated like animals. Sukkot -- the days of our joy -- was not a present reality. But, the Hebrews remembered, and they longed for the sweetness of the etrog, the rustle of the palm and myrtle.
And what did God give them? A dab of oil.
For re-dedicating the temple, cleansing it and making it ready, God gave them one little dab of oil. Hardly enough.
But there was something in the Hebrews who re-took the temple, something in me too, and I am guessing in all of us. It's a little voice that says, "Light it anyway... see what happens."
For me, I've had some things to reclaim, some cleansing to do in my own life. But, every time I light the oil I have, no matter how small, it's enough. Dayenu!
The oil that God had tucked away in the temple burned for eight days, same number as Sukkot. Dayenu!.
Hannukah is not one of the major festivals. It's not all that spiritual. But, for me, it means that God has given me everything I need to cleanse the temple, to get myself ready for a new regime. Hannukah means that the days of my oppression are over and that Sukkot -- the days of my joy -- have been restored!
Hannukah makes new, and ready. In some ways, it's the perfect way to observe Advent. Hannukah is proof that even my own desecrated life can be restored.
The first words of the Hanerot Halalu, said while lighting the Hannukah candles are:
For the miracles and the wonders,
For the redemption and the battles...
So for my own battles, the miracles and the wonders I've seen, for the redemption and cleansing I've experienced, all I can say is Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened here.
So, now that you know why I love Hannukah:
a Hannukkah Gelt Martini that is”.
Hanukkah Gelt Martini
2 parts chilled potato vodka
1 part Goldschlager
Combine in a shaker with ice, mix gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Serve with Hanukkah Gelt - what else?
Yes,Virginia, there's Swinging Dreidel too!
And, oh yes... there's Oh Hannukah too!
* This is the portion from Maccabees that refers to the the sukkot-hannukah connection: And they celebrated the eight days [ of Hannukah] in joy as chag ha-sukkot in their remembrance of their troubles before some time on chag ha-sukkot in the mountains and caves as beasts of the field. Therefore, with branches of myrtle and branches of beauty and date palm branches in their hands, they gave thanks to He who permitted them to succeed in purifying His Temple. And with a consensus they established for the entire Jewish nation to celebrate each year these days.-- Maccabees II 10:6-8