Getting my chanukiah ready is my favourite part of preparing for Chanukah. It is made from stone and metal and has a small crack on the right side. It cannot be done quickly. First, it is unwrapped from the bubble wrap. It is cleaned, dried, and put in a place where all can see it. Olive oil is poured into each cup and wicks placed on top. The wicks are put together by hand and gently placed in each cup so that they do not sink or become too wet.
In Jewish tradition, the woman lights the candles. This is her responsibility, her pride. She is allowed this moment to commune with the divine in private conference. This is only for women. She is the keeper of her household, her family’s storehouse. She protects and prepares it each year and gets to know the candles: how they work, their quirks. It becomes an art.
Chanukah begins tonight. Jewish women all over the world will pull out their chanukiahs and menorahs and walk through the steps. They will check their storehouses for the proper items and fill spaces where needed. They will clean their storehouses, even the ones with cracks and dust. But the dust and cracks won’t matter. They add character, tell a story.
The cracks should not be seen as a weakness, but rather as a point of interest. A sign that this piece of the storehouse needs a little love, a little care, a gentle touch. They should not be shoved to the back, ignored, or patched up with something to hide them. They should be placed where all can see, carefully mended and protected. A crack is not a sign of weakness, but rather a story to share. If Chanukah teaches anything, it is this.
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