Saturday, December 4, 2010

How, and Why, to Make Your Own Menorah

I am not Jewish, but one of my grandfathers was, before he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His family hadn't been very observant when he was a boy, and he married a nice Catholic girl, so there were not a lot of Jewish traditions that were part of his adult life. However, he did tell me about how much he liked Hanukkah, especially the menorah and the presents they got each night of Hanukkah, when he was a boy.

Even though we don't celebrate all eight nights of Hanukkah, I do try to light a menorah with my children each year, and share with them the miracle of the oil in the temple that should have lasted for only one night, and instead lasted for eight. I used to have a very nice menorah, but alas, I did not get it in the divorce settlement. I bought a cheap one when I was living in Bend, but after the second year we used it, it was broken. When I as pregnant with Maddy, I forgot all about celebrating Hanukkah with my children, and last year we played dreidel for Hanukkah, but we didn't light a menorah.

This year I decided that we needed a menorah, and to celebrate both our Jewish and Christian roots. I spent a good part of the day looking for a menorah, but couldn't find one. After visiting eight stores, and calling several others, I gave up trying to find one, and instead decided to make one.

My mom went with me to Michael's, a local craft store, and we came up with this DIY menorah. Before we went I looked up what the essential parts of a menorah were. Wikipedia had a good basic explanation that you can find here.

The basics for a menorah are that there are eight candles that represent the eight days of the miracle, and then a ninth candle, called the shamash that is used for lighting the other candles. The shamash should always be at least slightly higher than the other eight candles. Traditionally you would start the first night by lighting the shamash and one other candle. Each night of Hanukkah you light an additional candle, until on the eight night, all nine candles are lit.

Here you can see that I got a nice (and on clearance) set of silver tray, and placed four votive candles on each one. Some blue ribbon draped around gives it a Hanukkah flair, but is easy to take off and use for other projects later. The shamash candle holder have a blue ribbon tied in a bow and a silver candle that will be relative easy to light the other candles with.

We are only going to celebrate Hanukkah for one night, so we will light all nine candles on the same night. We will do it as night falls, and the candles will burn for at least an hour, as tradition dictates. We will also say the three Brachots, or blessings, as we do it. (This is the simplest website I found for explaining the brachots. I especially like that this site has recordings so that you can hear the brachots being sung.)

As you can see from this "aerial view" we have nine candles, and the shamash sits higher than the other eight. I enjoyed seeing a variety of non-traditional menorahs, when I was researching on the web, before I tried making my own. (To see a few of my favorite "unusal menorahs, click here or here.) The variety of designs was pretty amazing. My menorah is not nearly as creative as many I saw, but I think it will do well for our family, and I will be able to use the elements of it in Christmas decorations, and throughout the year.

For all of my friends, family members, and readers who are celebrating Hanukkah, I hope that we will all remember that we still live in a time of miracles. After all, isn't Hanukkah about the love of God, making sure that His holy temple would stand as a light to the Jews when they had just defeated an oppressive ruler, and were trying to rebuild their nation? If we apply this to our lives, we can know that God is always there, even as we fight against Satan and his attempts to destroy us. Perhaps the greatest miracle we can receive is the love, hope and peace that God gives us as we pray to him, even in times of great stress or trial.

Happy Hanukkah!
May the love of God bring you
peace, love
and the blessings
you most stand in need of!

** Don't forget, it isn't too late to enter the fudge giveaway!


Kathy Haynie said...

I think the kids will enjoy the celebration with this menorah as much as they did celebrating with the more traditional one.

Beautiful Habitat said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment. I'm glad that my menorah post gave your some inspiration. Your menorah turned out beautifully. Happy Hanukkah!

Elizabeth said...

I like your menorah! Very pretty, and versatile too. :) Linked to your blog on Facebook - hoping to get some of that yummy fudge! :D


JuliaKoponick said...

My post tomorrow will have pictures of the menorah turned out even better than I had hoped!


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