Drash before Chanukah
Rabbi Em Mueller
Sim Shalom Online Jewish Universalist Synagogue
December 20, 2016
Yesterday, my daughter and her wife hung Christmas lights in the kitchen. They’d moved in with us in July — them and their five year old and their three year old and the triplets, born in September. We’d agreed they’d live with us for a year so that my husband and I could help.
The next day, as I was walking through the local CVS pharmacy, I though, “Hmmm. Maybe I’ll buy some Chanukah decorations.” And I realized, before I actually paid for the string of dreidles and chanukiot to hang in the kitchen beside the Christmas lights, that I might be feeling some competition. The usual story: trying to make Chanukah as important as Christmas.
I realized I had to let Christmas dominate the house. Hard to do when it’s so visual and glitzy. But I realized we make a big deal about apples and honey – going apple picking every fall – to celebrate the Days of Awe, and we build a sukkah where we eat if the weather allows. Not to mention the costumes and carnival and baking for Purim!
So this year, Chanukah will be in the background, where it had been for the previous centuries. And I’ll celebrate, and we’ll light our candles every night and sing songs, but they do pale in comparison. And I’ll let Chanukah be the minor celebration that it was meant to be. No competition, just joy all around.