Everyone knows that the central mitzvah for Chanukah is to light a candle for each of the eight nights of the festival. Many Jews have sentimental feelings about the Chanukah menorah (chanukiah) we use to hold our candles.
Perhaps yours is a family heirloom that has been passed down for generations. Or maybe your child crafted a precious chanukiah when he or she was a youngster in Religious School. Or perhaps you cherish a beautiful chanukiah purchased from a Jewish artist.
Chanukiot come in all shapes and styles and no chanukiah can be judged superior to another. We are reminded of this fact tonight at our Shabbat evening service. It is our custom here at Temple on the Shabbat during Chanukah for each individual or family to bring a chanukiah.
Near the beginning of the service, our diverse chanukiot are lighted at the same time. The communal lighting is a beautiful sight - so many candles ablaze at one time. There is a sense of unity and joy at this moment. I am reminded of the Latin phrase that is part of the American seal: E pluribus unum – out of the many, one.
Whether large or small, simple or ornate, lighting our Chanukah menorahs during the eight-day festival rekindles our spirits. Let the glow of our Chanukah candles remind us of the courage of our ancestors and the importance of expressing our Jewish heritage with pride.