Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog

Preparing for Chanukah at the Jewish Home

This afternoon I was entering the Eisenberg Campus by way of The Heart Walk when I noticed that the late autumn winds had blown leaves into the candle holders of the bronze Chanukiah sculpture in front of the Newman Building. As I was removing the leaves I couldn’t help but think that in just a few, short weeks I would be gathering with the residents each evening of the eight nights of Chanukah to kindle the candles that would shine from this exquisite piece of ritual Judaic art. As has been our tradition in years past, we will make the blessings together and sing Chanukah songs—in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English—before the Chanukiah’s flickering lights. I will remind the residents, as I always do, that the Chanukah candles may not be used for any practical purpose but should only grace our Jewish Home with their illumination and inherent beauty. The lights will be a link for all of us, not only to the miracles of our people’s shared history in days of old, but to memories of Chanukahs celebrated in each one of our uniquely individual pasts…long ago childhood twirls of dreidels, sharing latkes or sufganiyot with our children, watching the candlelight illuminate the faces of our grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. And I, as the Rabbi of Eisenberg Village, will watch the golden glow from the bronze Chanukiah dance on the beautiful, wrinkled cheeks of our beloved Jewish Home residents and marvel at the miracle of their long and fruitful years. When most of them were children, Chanukah was not a time for expensive gifts or commercial competition. Their memories are filled with gifts of the senses: the sight of a spinning dreidel; the scent of hot oil and the taste of delicious fried Chanukah treats; and, above all, the warmth that only love of family, community, and shared heritage can bring to the dark and bitter chill of winter. These were the children that would, indeed, become members of “The Greatest Generation.”

And so, as I take these moments to prepare the bronze sculpture that will soon spring to life and light, I am already filled to overflowing with the anticipation of sharing another Chanukah with the residents I am blessed to serve at the Jewish Home. They are, indeed, a collective light to the nations of the world, shining a warm glow of inspiration to everyone who is lucky enough to bask in their glow. Just by being themselves, they stand as a miraculous symbol of their people’s tenacity and longevity. For me, being able to share the Festival of Lights with these precious souls for yet another year, is the greatest gift of all.

Rabbi Rita HertzbergRabbi Rita Hertzberg leads synagogue services and provides spiritual guidance and pastoral care and counseling for the resident community of the Jewish Homes Eisenberg Village Campus. Among her well-attended spiritual education and outreach programs are her weekly Judaism class and the popular “Get Together with Rabbi Rita.”

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