When I was growing up, my family and I would light the Hanukah menorah every night in the kitchen. We had one for the family. It would sit on the counter and we would light together and then sing Maoz Tzur in an English translation that I never understood. My brothers or I would run our fingers quickly the flames as my mother would tell us to stop it. We rarely had presents. I remember wondering why we didn’t have an electric menorah like so many of my friends. My mother would say that it wasn’t a REAL menorah.
As I became an adult, I learned about the custom of “publicizing the miracle.” We needed to show off our remembrance of the miracle of a little vial of purified oil lasting 8 days instead of 1. So, I would light my candles in the window, sing Maoz Tzur in Hebrew, and then turn my hanukiyah around so the entire world could see the “miracle.” It didn’t matter that for most of my adult life, I’ve lived on a high floor in the city.
One year, a parent gave me an electric chanukiyah for a gift. It was beautiful dark mental with delicate lights. This gift changed my entire Hanukah life! While we still light candles every day, the electric hanukiyah would “burn” brightly from our 4th floor window. And while I am not sure that it really was visible from the street, or the neighbors across the broad NYC avenue, it changed our evening. Now, instead of having the candle burns for just a 1/2 hour or maybe more, they would seem to be lit all night. That hanukiyah with the delicate lights has been changed for one with larger lights.
When I was in Jerusalem, I remember coming home from school and being excited to see all the hanukiyot in the windows. I may not be in Jerusalem, but when I came home last night and saw our electric menorah shining from across the street, it was very exciting.
Happy Hanukah y’all