Public Displays of Hanukkiyot

A modern phenomenon that draws on basic Hanukkah beliefs

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While this issue still causes its fair share of controversy (including issues particular to public schools), it has become a familiar sight to see even 30-foot hanukkiyot lit in places such as Central Park in New York City. In fact, even President George W. Bush made a point of lighting a hanukkiyah at the White House in 2001--using a menorah that made its way from Lvov, Poland, after the Holocaust.

Today, one can scarcely find a Jewish home without at least one hanukkiyah, and candles can be found in places as mundane as the local pharmacy. Local and national politicians, businesses from banks to bakeries, and even television stations are displaying hanukkiyot for publicity, solidarity, and sometimes as a response to over-zealous Christmas displays.

All of this public attention has not caused the family candle-lighting to disappear, however. On the contrary, more and more families are finding this simple ritual a very meaningful time for their families to gather. The miracle of Hanukkah will continue to be publicized in the homes of Jews throughout the world, even as it is granted ever-increasing exposure in the public eye.

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Rabbi Iscah Waldman

Rabbi Iscah Waldman is the director of education and family programming at Ansche Chesed in New York City.