Hanukkah Turns Into A Major Holiday

As Candles Are Lighted, Torch Ispassed From Generation To Generation

November 27, 1991|By Jamie Wehler Guest columnist

The more I try to reduce a memory to writing, the more I hear the Hebrew phrase "dor l'dor," generation to generation.

Traditions, familial and cultural, mold our lives and shape the traditions we pass to our children.

The basic tenets remain unchanged, but the ways they are observedchange -- dor l'dor.

Hanukkah is a time for rejoicing and celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple after it was destroyed by the Syrians in 165 B.C.

Bits and pieces of various years flow to create mellow remembrances of celebrations past.

From childhood comesthe mental picture of my sisters and me, then three little girls alldressed up, standing at the dining room table with our parents.

In front of this happy family was the menorah with candle flames dancing brightly.

The blessings over the candles, the melodies of the traditional songs loudly sung as if the measure of volume could somehow increase the joy.

Years later, at a time when the two youngest of those little girls were in college and the older sister was nine years dead, a shadow was still cast over the joyous rites. A picture piece was missing and would ever be that way.

That was the year we refer to as the "Rod McKuen" Hanukkah.

I gave my sister a book of poetry "Listen to the Warm," by Rod McKuen.

My mother selected a copy for me, and my sister gave the same book to my mother.

The memory lingers because we were all drawn to and touched by McKuen's poetry -- the book became tangible proof of a bond between generations -- dor l'dor.

Hanukkah 1971, my husband, Mike, and I celebrated our first Hanukkah together, with a menorah that had belonged to my parents -- generation to generation.

In 1976, our 3-year-old son lightedhis own tiny menorah, without an adult guiding his hand -- passed again, generation to generation.

A minor holiday, Hanukkah has produced some major memories.

These memories have a common thread and that thread binds one generation to another.

Jamie Wehler is president of B'nai Israel in Westminster.

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