Herschell Ostripeller was feeling low. He had always loved Hanukkah but this year was different. He was in home isolation because of Covid-19 and as a result he would be lighting his menorah without anybody else around.
The eight days of Hanukkah were always a special time in Herschell’s life. He basked in the warmth of the candles burning brightly. He sat back and thought about the Hanukkah story. He could draw parallels with today’s world. Hanukkah was about not giving up your identity to please others and holding strong to your beliefs. It was about not willing to conform or to compromise when it came to pressure and most importantly being proud of who you were.
The story of Hanukkah was more than finding oil which burned brightly for eight days, it was about keeping the internal fires of justice and freedom burning bright with no dilution.
Hanukkah was a much deeper holiday than it looked on the surface, but it was also a time for family. Now with Covid-19 everywhere, there was no gatherings in person. It was nice to use Zoom to keep in touch, but that didn’t provide the sensory overload of things like freshly made latkes or opening gifts together.
Since he was a little boy, Herschell had always made sure his Nieces and Nephews received eight gifts each so they could open up a present every day of Hanukkah. He loved spending at least one evening with each of them and watching their faces as they discovered a new toy he had bought them.
When he was a little boy, his friends in school who weren’t Jewish always wanted to become Jewish on Hanukkah to get the gifts. When you’re a little kid, eight straight days of presents was Nirvana.
Now Herschell looked at his lonely Menorah and felt a twinge of sadness instead of the normal happiness. His favourite holiday had become a lonely one.
After going to Spotify and putting on some songs by the Maccabeats about Hanukkah and one by Matisyahu he looked outside and saw that darkness was descending. He took out his siddur and got ready to light the first candle. Herschell was disappointed because he thought maybe one of his Nieces or Nephews or Great Nieces and Nephews would have called to wish him a Happy Hanukkah. He then started feeling bad, maybe he should have called…