Mom’s Unusual Chanukah Tradition

Mom’s Unusual Chanukah Tradition

In her later years, Mom would go to sleep not long after sunset. This presented a problem during Chanukah, since by the time it was getting dark enough to light Chanukah candles, it was already late enough that Mom would be asleep by the time the candles had burnt out. So since she was worried about leaving candles unsupervised, Mom and Dad decided to light Chanukah candles when they woke up, at around 5 AM.
This year, as Chanukah approaches, I’ve been thinking what an appropriate tradition this was for Mom, to kindle her Chanukah lights at the darkest time of night, right before the dawn.
Mom and Dad attended a shul located in inner city Baltimore, near the zoo. Jews had once lived in that neighborhood, but almost all had long moved out to the safer suburbs. But the shul stayed put, and Mom, especially, loved attending. She once said, “It’s so much easier to skip shul on Saturday morning, but when I go, I always feel so much better!”
And it wasn’t just the shul Mom cared about, she also cared about the mostly black community members who were the shul’s neighbors. Mom and Dad spent a Sunday morning helping to construct a playground for the neighborhood’s children. Mom also loved volunteering to read books to the community’s kindergartners.
In her office as well, of course, Mom did what she could to spread light to people in darkness. Including many members of Baltimore’s Orthodox community nearby.
A light in the darkness, waiting expectantly for the dawn, that was Mom.

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