I don’t know if it is my Christian upbringing, knowledge of other religions/dominations (Catholic, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.), the twisted version of patriotism that has led some Americans to care more about the US flag than what it represents, lessons of comportment regarding race and gender identity, the sometimes ultra fine line between appropriating a culture and appreciating it, the fact that people have been killed over cartoons, my very brief life as a cultural anthropology student at the University of Michigan, or something else completely, but whatever it is, I really do worry about causing offence through ignorance (I’m totally cool with offending when I know I’m doing it).
To this end, making Hanukkah-themed COVID cards would be terrifying if it weren’t the beauty of knowing that, at least to some Jewish teachers, no one needs to sweat the details — it’s the big picture that matters. Dreamy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all life could be that way? Well, okay, as a long-time coder, I know details are important in some things. But imagine living in a country where all people realized that a bunch of fabric sewn together, while being a very meaningful and important symbol, is after all, just a bunch of cloth sewn together and, as such, is not more important than the lives it flies over or the values it represents. Sadly, there is no argument in this world that can convince some people that destroying fabric that represents, among other things, free speech is, to some, exercising that right. The fabric is more important than what it represents. It boggles…
Anyway, back to Hanukkah. This year, Hanukkah, if I am to believe the www, began in the evening of December 10th and will end in the evening of December 18th. If you read my first Hanukkah-themed card post, you may remember that I fretted over how many cards to make: eight for the eight days of Hanukkah? Nine for the nine evenings and, I wrote, candles? I now know that one candle, the Shamash (aka helper or servant), is used to light the other eight. A ninth candle is not lit on the final evening of Hanukkah. But I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have a single candle or one for each family member. I love the flexibility: a single candle, more meticulous (mehadrin: one candle per day per family member), and the most meticulous (mehadrin min hamehadrin: one candle for each day of the celebration). One needs only a single light to be able to celebrate.
In this card, made on the 4th night of Hanukkah, there are four candles. One is on the left side of a door (it’s cut out of the left side of the door and is a door within the door). Once, the preferred place for a menorah or hanukkiah was to the left side (as you face it from the outside) of one’s door — providing maximum visibility. If one lived on an upper story, the menorah would be placed in a window (hence the candle in an upper window on the card). Circumstances, not typically pleasant, led to windows being the more common location (thus the candle cut into the window on the card). Today, many simply put their menorah’s on tables, mantels, etc.
Bonus: did you know that a hanukkiah can be a menorah, but a menorah can’t be a hanukkiah? The web says it’s true so it must be.