I’ve always thought that Hanukah comes at the most perfect time. At the darkest time of the year, we add light. My favorite experience of Hanukah is from when I was studying in Jerusalem. I was having a cranky day and ran for a bus when leaving school at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. I ended up on the wrong bus which turned out to be a blessing. As I look up at the buildings on the bus route, I started to see lit hanukiot in so many windows and fences that it cheered me up.
I love lighting my hanukiah and I am faithful, even when I arrive home very late. Sometimes, I will have already lit and said the blessings more than once. As with yesterday when I lit with the 3rd 5th graders in tefillah and then with the adults in Hebrew class. And still, I find that the length that the candles’ burn is too short.
A few years ago, a student gave me an electric hanukiah for a holiday gift. It was then that I learned how wonderful it could be to have the lights lit all night, and not just for the 1/2 hour that the candles stay bright. This is especially true on Shabbat when we light our candles so early! We have even upgraded to an electric menorah with large bulbs.
Don’t get me wrong, I still say the blessings over the hanukiah with candles. It is a hanukiah that I bought in Israel on my very first trip. And after we sing Maoz Tzur, we plug in the electric and share the light of Hanukah with our neighbors. After all, if the true miracle of Hanukah is that we Jews are still here, shouldn’t we shout it?