Dec 1, 2010

In Jerusalem, All is Aglow

In Nachla'ot, this is what we see. Lights, lights, in every shape and size.
I'll admit it: I am incredibly spoiled being in Jerusalem for the first half of Chanukah. In fact, spoiled probably isn't even the most appropriate word. I need a word with more awesomeness and emphasis on "special" and "unique."

If you've never been in Jerusalem for Chanukah, then you're missing out. There's something about walking down a street and, when you turn to look down any alley, seeing doorway after doorway bright with the lights of chanukiot or menorahs. I was telling Tuvia that it reminds me of Christmastime back in Missouri and Nebraska, when my dad would insist on us driving around -- as a family -- to look at the varied and unique displays of lights in every neighborhood of town. Some went all out with every last inch covered in beautiful white lights (classy) and some would go all out with plastic Santa figurines and colorful lights upon every door and window frame (barf).

In Jerusalem, you see gigantic chanukiot and small ones. Silver and pewter, small glasses filled with oil, some in boxes, some simply on chairs in doorways. The variety is beautiful, the light is uplifting. I suppose this is one of the times of year where Jerusalem feels whole, connected, complete, and as one. I can't fully describe how beautiful it is -- you have to see and feel it to believe it -- but I hope some of the photos here can give you a taste of what it's like.

You can light 'em on a chair ...
I also wish I could go into a big academic diatribe about Chanukah really being (probably) a belated Sukkot celebration, but I'll save you the drama that it might unfold. I'll just say that for what it's worth, most people don't know the whole story about Chanukah and how it evolved through the years to what we know today. I will add, of course, that I love how appropriate it is to see so many chanukiot lit on the right side of the doorpost here -- after all, this is where we are meant to light our chanukiot because they are meant to sit opposite the mezuzah upon our right doorposts as a reminder of the rekindling of our commitment to HaShem and the Torah.

At any rate, Chag Chanukah Sameach, Chag Sameach, Happy Chanukah -- all from Jerusalem, which is a'glow (but not a'blaze, Baruch HaShem!).

We chose to set up our tea light chanukiah on our window ledge. Chag Chanukah Sameach!
For more photos, check out my Facebook! Also, for what it's worth, we were interviewed by the friendly faces behind Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem, so stay tuned to their website to see if my hilarious comments about Israelis and Floridians make it on-air.

10 comments:

Bethany said...

You're making my heart yearn to make aliyah. Maybe I'm not against moving to Jerusalem afterall.. I anticipate you'll be getting a thank you note from Seth.

Anonymous said...

Was that photo taken on beer sheva street? YOU'RE IN MY HOOD. I hope you're at Kol Rina, the Carlebach shul, for their Chanuka party right now! --Meira, a faithful reader who lives here.

Batya said...

It was great to F2F at The Kotel.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Love this. <3 Chag sameach.

Chaviva said...

@Bethany Bwahahahaha. PS: I did hear some things about Bet Shemesh if you're interested. Remind me with an email.

@Anonymous Seriously!? Meira, pleasure to meet you. We're staying in Nachla'ot on Yosef Haim! We were in Ramat Shlomo tonight for dinner with family, not here in the 'hood. :( Maybe we'll bump into you? We're here until Sunday!

@Batya YES! It was. Without a doubt.

@SS Chag sameach, toots :D

Anonymous said...

beautiful photos!
-amy

Bells said...

Your post is beautiful. The candlelight makes the limestone glow. It uplifted my soul. It took my breath away. It unifies the Jewish Quarter. Light from darkness, sparks from a shell.

One Chanukkah, when I wound my way from the Jewish to Arab Quarter to meet a friend for tea, I felt the warmth of the walls dissipate. I became acutely aware of "the Other". It drew in sharp relief the division between the Old City's people. The discomfort of "the Other" goaded me, too, when I traveled later that night from one Jerusalem neighborhood to another. In the darkened windows of staunchly secular Israelis, I saw resistance, refutation, rejection.

The next night, as I lit another candle, its light reminded me that that sparks, which stream so vividly from the nerots' flames, flow through all of creation. God's immanence and transcendence are fundamental Jewish principles, recorded in the Tanakh, the Talmud, medieval texts, prayers, the Kabbalah. The shekhinah shoots through all of creation.

There is no "Other." That is our own own distortion. It is human failing that pits one against the other, Jew against Muslim, Palestinian against Israeli, Jew against Jew.

The walls in the Arab Quarter warmed. Darkened windows brightened. Now, every time I light a candle, it glows more brightly than the one lit before, than the candles lit on Chanukkahs past. I recognize that, political and religious strife notwithstanding, we are all imbued with light. Jerusalem, unified, beats more strongly in my breast.

So those were my rambling thoughts during my Chanukkah ramblings around Jerusalem. My understanding continues to shift and evolve. The Gates of Interpretation never swing shut.

Thank you for reminding me that all is aglow.

Rivki said...

I love it! Your descriptions and your pictures really make me miss Israel. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Sheva said...

Beautiful , and an FYI. It is Chabad minchag to light in a doorway not a window on a chair, hence the last chair doorway pic. Welcome back to the states!

Chaviva said...

@Bells Your post is beautiful, really. Thank you for expressing it here!

@Rivki Thanks :)

@Sheva Glad to be back.

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