Last year the holidays of Chanukah and Thanksgiving happened at the same time–a rare meeting of our secular and Jewish calendars. This year Chanukah happens in its more normal time in mid-December, but it’s still a nice reminder to carry our feelings of thanks-giving and gratitude into the festival of lights. At the darkest time of the year, we shed light on our past by re-telling the story of Chanukah, and on our future by having our children share in the traditions of candles, songs, latkes, and presents.
What are your favorite Chanukah memories? What memories to you want to create this year for those around you?
One of my strongest associations of Chanukah is the song “Maoz Tzur”, sometimes also sung in English as “Rock of Ages”. I was not brought up in a religious home, but I do remember learning “Maoz Tzur” from my father. The song is quite old. The lyrics originate from a 12th century piyyut, or liturgical poem; and although we tend to only sing the first verse, there are actually five stanzas, and the first letter of each stanza spells out the name of its author, Mordechai (in Hebrew, the letters are mem, reish, dalet, chaf and yud). The tune we usually sing comes from a 15th century German hymn, although there is another somewhat less well-known melody composed by the 18th century Venetian composer, Benedetto Marcello.
As the days grow shorter, may the lights of Chanukah, of music, and of our wonderful Adas Emuno community, shine on!
Cantor Sandy Horowitz