Swerdloff Law Firm December 2017


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What traditions does your family have? When my boys were younger, we would celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah at home, with many presents and delicious food. When I was a kid, as I’ve told you, we would celebrate Hanukkah and incite jealousy into all the kids at school when we compared our seven days’ worth of presents to their one day. But why seven days, with a candle for each night? As I think about the history of Hanukkah, I find myself remembering bits of what I learned in school or church and the traditions my parents passed on to me. Hanukkah usually comes around in December, but because it’s based on the lunar calendar, it doesn’t have a set date like Christmas does. It can come as early as late-November, and as late as just after Christmas. Occasionally, Christmas and Hanukkah will happen in the same week, which is a bonanza for kids like us who had openhearted parents. Based on a victory celebration of the Maccabees, Hanukkah goes way back to Roman times. Romans destroyed the main temple in Jerusalem during an epic battle in old Israel, and with it, they extinguished the eternal light that burned inside, which was supposed to remain lit 24 hours a day. As the rabbis were clearing the rubble of this temple, they found a vial of oil. Now, there wasn’t very much oil left in the vial, just enough to keep the light burning for one day. But incredibly, the oil lasted for a whole week. That is the miracle of Hanukkah and why we celebrate today by lighting seven

candles, one for each night that the eternal light burned.

a tradition we’ve carried forward and still practice today. Latkes usually go with dinner, though sometimes we add applesauce, sugar, and spices for a tasty dessert. Next year, my first granddaughter arrives, and I’m looking forward to sharing Hanukkah traditions with her. Like the rabbis who discovered the oil in the temple ruins, life comes with unexpected blessings. We never know what is in store for us. Thank you all for trusting me on this journey with you; it’s an honor. Have a happy Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year! I’ll see you in 2018!

Food is part of the tradition, of course, and I looked forward to the latkes — potato pancakes — that my mom made. She got so excited as the holiday approached and put up many decorations, like the electric candelabra, an illumination of crepe paper and ribbons. Mom was a piano player, and we had one at home, so each Hanukkah, she would haul out her music books and make selections while we sang along to traditional melodies, like the one about the dreidel.

Our holiday was spent with festive songs, cookies, hot chocolate, and latkes. That’s

–Arthur J. Swerdloff


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