Meditations for Each Night of Chanukah (If you have special readings or traditions for Chanukah, please share them with us.)
FREEDOM – – First Night: We kindle these Chanukah Lights in memory of the dedication and courage of the Maccabees. They willingly sacrificed their lives for the freedom to worship God as their hearts and minds dictated. As we kindle these candles, we rededicate ourselves to work for the equal rights of all people, and for the realization of a society of democracy and freedom.
FAMILY – – Second Night: Tonight, as we celebrate Chanukah together, we are conscious of our precious gift of family. So often we take one another for granted, forgetting to express our love and devotion. As we kindle these festive lights, let us rededicate ourselves to sharing our interests and time with one another. Like the Maccabees of old, let us share both our troubles and our joys, united by our family bonds.
STUDY – – Third Night: As the Maccabees courageously fought to preserve our faith, we too are duty-bound to sustain our heritage by deepening our understanding of it. Study opens our minds and fortifies us against tyranny. Learning secures our freedom. As we kindle these candles, we rededicate ourselves to the study of our tradition.
HOPE – – Fourth Night: Ours are times when many people live in fear and great despair. Like the Maccabees, we need to build our lives on the hope that ultimately truth will triumph over superstition, trust over suspicion, concern over selfishness. As we kindle these Chanukah lights, may our hearts be lifted by our tradition’s sense of confidence, optimism and hope.
RIGHTEOUSNESS – – Fifth Night: Our tradition tells us that during the Maccabean war for freedom, all Jews – – children and adults – – contributed generously toward the cause of defeating the oppressor. There are still many people afflicted by sickness, hunger, ignorance, and prejudice. Tonight, like our ancestors, we put aside gifts of charity in order that we too, may help to bring an end to oppression.
PEACE – – Sixth Night: The candles of Chanukah remind us of our chosen mission as Jews. One of our foremost tasks is to secure peace in our troubled world. When we end disagreements through mutual understanding, when we seek to mend hurt and wounded feelings, we make shalom a living idea. As we kindle our Chanukah candles, we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace.
HUMANITY – – Seventh Night: Humanity is founded upon whole-hearted respect for the precious liberty and freedom of all people; it is an important teaching of our tradition. As we kindle these lights, we rededicate ourselves to caring for humanity and to respect for all people which alone can bring dignity to all God’s children.
FAITH – – Eighth Night: Throughout the centuries, the Menorah has been a symbol of our Jewish Faith. Tonight, as we kindle all the candles of our Chanukah Menorah, we rededicate ourselves to the living of a more meaningful Jewish life. We pray that throughout this coming year we may fulfill the ideals of freedom, family, study, hope, tsedakah, shalom, humanity and faith.
(Much of the material came from the Temple Anshe Emeth Bulletin of New Brunswick, New Jersey.)
For more Chanukah blessings, go to the RS website.