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Quotations for Hanukkah


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Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth.
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth...
~Emma Lazarus (1849–1887), "The Feast of Lights"


Colorful candles burning bright, each lit on eight very special nights. ~Author unknown


Eight days the light continued on its own:
A miracle, they say, but not more so
Than ordinary lives of flesh and bone,
Consuming wicks burned ashen long ago....
~Nicholas Gordon, poemsforfree.com


Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flames.
Blessed are the flames that blazed in the hearts' recesses.
Blessed are the hearts that could beat their last in dignity.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flames.
~Hannah Senesh (1921–1944)


Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire... ~Emma Lazarus (1849–1887), "The Feast of Lights"


May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind. ~Author unknown


To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle...
~Walt Whitman, "Miracles," Leaves of Grass, 1855


Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day with night.
~Emma Lazarus (1849–1887), "The Feast of Lights"


Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.
~Emma Lazarus (1849–1887), "The Feast of Lights"


The miracle, of course, was not that the oil for the sacred light —
in a little cruse — lasted as long as they say;
but that the courage of the Maccabees lasted to this day:
let that nourish my flickering spirit.
~Charles Reznikoff (1894–1976)


By all means, then, let us have psalms
and days of dedication anew to the old causes.
~Charles Reznikoff (1894–1976)


On Hanukkah, the first dark night,
Light yourself a candle bright.
I'll you, if you will me invite
To dance within that gentle light.
~Nicholas Gordon, poemsforfree.com


Christmas is a major holiday. Hanukkah is a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat. ~"KOACH Humor: Holiday Distinctions Finally Explained…," koach.org, November 2004  [KOACH College Outreach is a project of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. —tg]


May love and light fill your home and heart at Hanukkah. ~Author unknown


...A fuel-less flame is nothing but a wraith,
However wrought, if unsustained by passion.
~Nicholas Gordon, "How Long Can We Remember an Event," poemsforfree.com


People have fun baking Christmas cookies. People burn their eyes and cut their hands grating potatoes and onions for latkes on Hanukkah. Another reminder of our suffering through the ages. ~"KOACH Humor: Holiday Distinctions Finally Explained…," koach.org, November 2004  [KOACH College Outreach is a project of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. —tg]


Most Texans think Hanukkah is some sort of duck call. ~Richard Lewis, 1984


As a candle cannot burn without fire, so man cannot live without spiritual force. ~Ramakrishna


The players in the Christmas story have easy to pronounce names such as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The players in the Hanukkah story are Antiochus, Judah Maccabee, and Matta whatever. No one can spell it or pronounce it. On the plus side, we can tell our friends anything and they believe we are wonderfully versed in our history. ~"KOACH Humor: Holiday Distinctions Finally Explained…," koach.org, November 2004  [KOACH College Outreach is a project of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. —tg]


Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~Chinese proverb


Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them? ~Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Times to Remember, 1974, decorated version of a proverb


To God : to illuminate all men...
Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness — to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness — to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light...
~Allen Ginsberg, "Psalm III," 1956


In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukka" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukka!" or (to the atheists) "Look out for the wall!" ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: Go Knock Yourself Out," 1981, davebarry.com


I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. ~Jewish Proverb


...for even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings... ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight, 1931, translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert, 1932


Christmas brings enormous electric bills. Candles are used for Hanukkah. Not only are we spared enormous electric bills, but we get to feel good about not contributing to the energy crisis. ~"KOACH Humor: Holiday Distinctions Finally Explained…," koach.org, November 2004  [KOACH College Outreach is a project of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. —tg]


      ...We all know the story about only one jar of oil and the long journey to fetch more. Yeah, yeah, eight days, yada, yada, yada. We have focused on the miracle-thing and I think we often overlook the message of Hanukkah.
      To me, the core of the holiday is the cleaning of the temple. Remember that the invaders had taken an Israelite temple and used it for their own purposes. The inside was probably really gross. After the battle the temple was being restored to its original purpose. This required work, cleaning out the Stuff, and understanding of the original purpose. The task may have been hard and dirty work, but the results were worthwhile. The accomplishment was in restoring the temple to the purpose for which it was built.
      Now think of the temple as a symbol. Perhaps it represents my life. The world has tried to use me for its own (perhaps good, but none-the-less extrinsic) purposes. But now I can rededicate myself to my own original purpose. Oh, it may take hard work. It may mean cleaning out a lot of Stuff. It may be really gross. It may mean figuring out what my purpose actually is. The task may require hard and dirty work, but the results can be worthwhile.
      Now, near the Winter Solstice, it is good to light candles. All the nice meanings of bringing light to the world can be beautiful. But perhaps we are concentrating on lighting the world because we don't know how to light up our own lives...
      Just because we may not have the answers is not sufficient reason not to work on the issues. And what issue is more important than figuring out why we are here... ~Ralph Levy, "Hanukkah – Another View," RalphLevy.com



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