By: David Heilbron, Regional Jewish Educator

When thinking of how to celebrate Hanukkah, thoughts may turn to traditional customs like the lighting of candles, eating of tasty fried foods, or the addition of prayers of gratitude and rejoicing for miracles that were brought to ancestors. Or perhaps your thoughts are swirling with Hanukkah beginning relatively early this year – it starts at sundown on Sunday, Nov. 28th and ends at nightfall on Monday, Dec. 6th. 

In the midst of this storm of preparations and customs and as we look at a world in 2021 that is very different from past years, we may be thinking of another question (a la Passover) – How can this Hanukkah be different from all others? Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger (also known as the Sefat Emet) offers an answer to the question of how Hanukkah can inspire us anew each and every year. The Sefat Emet explains Hanukkah not only as a reminder of the (re)dedication of the Temple (from which the holiday gets its name), but also as an opportunity to renew that dedication. As Rabbi Art Green interprets from the Sefat Emet, “Hanukkah is a time of rededication, making the Temple once again pure enough to be a dwelling-place for God. our inner Temple, too, needs to be dedicated anew to become again the place where God can dwell ‘within them.’”

As we continue to live in a world of transition and uncertainty, perhaps this Hanukkah can be an opportunity to rededicate to ourselves, our communities and our world. While literally cleaning out your ‘inner Temple” may not be the most exciting program, here are some ideas to add a bit of renewal and rededication to your Hanukkah programming!