The chanukiahs went up again last week.
The kitschy electric lights they strap to lamp poles along the intersection of lanes.
My heart didn’t even beat with that happy pride it used to.
I mean come on! It should have.
This street, as fate would have it, used to be my street.
Wings of Eagles, it was called, and you all know how I feel about those. It can’t get more epically biblical than that, eh?
My first year of seminary had me claiming this place, this little strip of Givat Shaul, with its dark, terrible past.
And 7 years ago when the lights went up on Kanfei Nesharim Street, my heart swelled at the idea hells ya. NO CHRISTMAS.
The Jews have landed.
It was our tiny bit of quirk, our little bit of hallmark over the topness in response to the red green and white of baby Jesus’s advent.
Our amazing narrative(if apocryphal) of rebellion against the oppressors and utter faith finally stood some chance next to the one about three wise men and an unprecedented woman. (Don’t get me wrong, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth and Bethlehem have Christmas doooooown. Like amazing. Kudos and a hat tip to their kitschy Christmas celebrations.)
And it used to make me smile.
Today, sigh. God, I think it marks the hardness, the adultness, the omg, the last bit of youthful spontaneous joy is almost gone-ness. (That read a bit Dr. Seuss-ish).
If the kitschy chanukiahs can’t make me smile what can they do??
They might make me feel.
But i’ve forgotten to examine our story in the more recent months.
I’ve barely said a prayer or truly learnt until my soul felt content and my mind challenged (and maybe, if i’m throwing myself a bone, my heart full? Whuuutt).
Sometimes I am still insecure. Sometimes I still feel like I am a stranger and because I haven’t engaged with my culture on any level, I’m feeling far from those lights.
I am seeing them in tunnel vision.
So this Chanukah I pray for lots of things.
But mostly I hope to find that spark.
And light up the night with it.
*Menorah is a seven branched candelabra which was eons of feet tall. It stood in the Temple and was used in Temple rituals and is highly symbolic in Judaism. The Chanukiah is eight branches and serves as a reminder of the miracle that lasted eight days. Ok, done now.