I always love the daily ritual of lighting candles during Hanukkah. I quickly grow attached to the calm that comes with guiding the shamash to light each candle one at a time, watching the wicks so easily start to glow, and then feeling the added light and warmth dance around the house.
Lighting candles is a welcome antidote to these long, dark nights, and it can feel hard to stop this ritual when we arrive on the other side of the holiday.
But it turns out that Hanukkah doesn't have to be over just yet...
Last year, inspired by Erica Perl's new book that arrived from PJ Library, my family started celebrating the 9th Night of Hanukkah!
In the book, a family moves into their new apartment just in time for Hanukkah, and soon realizes that all of their favorite Hanukkah stuff (menorah, dreidels, latke pan) is in the same lost box. With the help of their new neighbors, they collect supplies and try their best to celebrate each night.
At the end of the holiday, the kids invite their neighbors for a Shamash Night Celebration, explaining: "For eight nights of Hanukkah, the shamash helps light all the other candles, like all of you helped us. So we wanted to say thanks - to the shamash and to you."
We’re excited to light the lone shamash candle tonight. No blessings, no gifts, no more fried food. Tonight is about bringing into the forefront of our minds and hearts all the people who help our family and our world. All the people who help others to shine. All the people whose hope, positivity, and wisdom illuminate our lives.
Thank you to all the helpers out there. We are grateful for your light.
Rabbi Bethie Miller