Hanukkah has arrived, the “Festival of Lights” celebrating both the military victory of the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks (c. 165 BCE) and the purported miracle of the oil which burned in the ner tamid (eternal light) in the temple of Jerusalem after it was regained and purified ritually.
My knitted Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah) is underway. Even in progress it’s lovely with candles. Of course, we can’t light our candles on this menorah – the silver yarn is definitely not fire proof, but we’ll enjoy setting it up alongside my grandmother’s brass menorah.
Rock of Ages
This year we will move past the dreidel songs, to “Rock of Ages”, the hymn so central to Hanukkah. We wonder whether the rock is divine (as described in the hymn) or profane – Israel, or Jerusalem. We consider how we can give this lesser holiday new meaning, even greater significance. We want to re-think the boundaries of the miraculous the holiday encompasses, to expand those boundaries to include our wishes for a just peace for Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
In this spirit we’ve attempted to pursue tikkun olam through new, intentional Hanukkah practices. We’ve purchased Fair Trade beeswax candles for the menorah, and the vegetables we’ll use for our latkes are locally-produced, to reduce the strain on the environment. Our new knitted dreidel brings a smile every time we try to spin it (more information about my pattern for this nifty bit of Judaica can be found here).
To bring our observance of the holiday in line with our fervent desire for peace in Israel, we will be making all of our latkes with Fair Trade West Bank olive oil jointly-produced by Palestinians and Jews. We’ll start with oil purchased from a group in the Philadelphia area called Playgrounds for Palestine which raises funds to build playgrounds for Palestinian children in refugee camps. Then we’ll use some of the “Peace Oil” we’ve shared with our synagogue’s Hanukkah Fair, Jewish-Palestinian olive oil produced by two Israeli organizations that do wonderful peace and environmental work: Saha (also known as GreenAction and Sindyanna of Galilee. Green Action is a remarkable environmental organization that promotes fair trade and all manner of eco-justice projects, including olive oil production with West Bank farmers. Sindyanna is a collaborative of Jewish and Palestinian women who make beautiful olive oil soaps in addition to oil. These people really know how to co-exist.
This is our way of expressing the traditional injunction to use the lights of the holiday “to increase the light in the world.” Next year we’ll see about using a traditional menorah that will burn the Fair Trade olive oil rather than candles. While I can’t knit that one, I have an idea …
Another Happy Hanukkiyah
There are 8 nights of Hanukkah. I’ll share my knitted menorah pattern during the 8 nights of the holiday. I’ll post a piece of the pattern each night, and describe the process of knitting this (and other) sculpture. We can all make menorot together. And …
And we’ll knit one leaf each day for the TikkunTree Project, a community-crafted peace project to promote peace and co-existence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. These links will take you to information and guidelines, and original patterns, for the project. I’ll revise this post daily for eight days, adding to the pattern as Hanukkah progresses. I’d be delighted to include images of your work if you send them to me at: tikkunknits (at) yahoo (dot) com. After the holiday, send your leaves for the TikkunTree to: The TikkunTree Project, P.O. Box 2088, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Note: This patterns is one of my Patterns for Peacebuilders, and will be available free of charge during the holiday. After December the pattern will be available for a nominal contribution to a peacebuilding organization. More information can be found here.
The TikkunTree Menorah
4 December 2007 … 1st night of Hanukkah
Making the candle holders.
5 December 2007 … 2nd night of Hanukkah
Making the Shamash and setting up to knit the body.
6 December 2007 … 3rd night of Hanukkah
Connecting the 8 holders and Shamash, and thinking about decoration.
7 December 2007 … 4th night of Hanukkah:
Designing the shape, beginning to knit the body.
8 December 2007 … 5th night of Hanukkah: The body of the menorah and decorating options.
9 December 2007 … 6th night of Hanukkah: Decorating the body.
10 December 2007 … 7th night of Hanukkah: a candelabra-style body, and a Magen David design
11 December 2007 … 8th night of Hanukkah: the base