Wax and Wicks

Jews have laws and customs for so many ritual details: washing hands in the morning, donning a tallit [prayershawl], the order of blessings before and after a meal, preparing a household for Passover, etc., etc., etc., etc. A special kavanah [intention] can be part of even the most mundane of actions, as well. But, while we do have rituals for bidding holy days farewell, there is a marked lack of ritual and intention for cleaning up afterward. Much ink has been spilled, for example, over the order candles are placed in the Chanukah menorah and the order in which they’re lit each night. Where do we learn, though, how to deal with wax drippings and old wicks, at the end of the eight days?


A winter cold meant a pause in #ExploringBabylon after only three of the five powers associated with Chanukah and the piyyut “Ma’oz Tzur.” But this household is still trying to rid itself of wax drippings left on the cookie sheet while cleaning up the hanukkiyot — and we hope that the light from the holiday will not recede but carry us (past the Gregorian new year) on toward the New Year for Trees (1/30/18). So, look for “Chanukah and the Five Powers, part 2” soonish.

Kindling Hope with the Fourth Candle

How is Chanukah kindling hope for you and others this season?

In memory of Rekia Boyd, killed at age 22, another victim of (off-duty) police violence from my first hometown, I am kindling hope with ChanukahAction by supporting Ferguson Action Demand #2: contacting the USDOJ to demand a comprehensive review of systemic abuses by local police departments, including publication of data relating to racially biased policing, and the development of best practices.”

It was Rekia Boyd whom I chose to memorialize at the the 4-1/2-hour die-in in front of the USDOJ on December 8, organized to promote human rights for black and brown people in the U.S. While I never knew her, she is forever in my heart (and inspired this prayer).

May every act of remembrance — candle-lighting, mourners’ kaddish, memorial prayer — bind the victims of racial bias more tightly into our national consciousness
and collective commitment to change.

Here is the fourth candle Chanukah Action:

Options for taking action:
Option 1: Share the following message on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.): “I support Ferguson Action’s call for a Comprehensive Review of systemic abuses by local police departments, including the publication of data relating to racially biased policing, and the development of best practices. http://www.fergusonaction.com/demands”

Option 2: The Department of Justice has been identified as a primary target in the fight to end racialized police violence. This Chanukah, contact the Department of Justice and voice your support for change. Here is a sample script you can use:

“Hello, my name is _______. I am calling to urge the Department of Justice to: Conduct a comprehensive review of systemic abuses by local police departments Publish data related to racially biased policing Develop best practices for racially just law enforcement. Repurpose funds to support community-based alternatives to incarceration.”

You may contact the Department of Justice at: 202-353-1555 or by email at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

Here is the full Action Toolkit (PDF).

I am taking this action in advance of tonight’s 4th candle in order to enjoy Shabbat when it comes in this evening, right after Chanukah candle-lighting, and to allow for my participation in the local #BlackYouthMatter #SouthEastMatters action just across the river from my DC home.

May the light of our candles and actions help bring about a new way of seeing, in our own lives and in the country.