On this, the third night/day of Chanukah, I nearly forgot to light my menorah here at home. Shame, shame. Perhaps. But it was overshadowed by the fact that I was at the National Menorah lighting ceremony earlier today. As in, from 4 to 5:30. I have to say, it's a mighty fine tradition that I was ecstatic to be a part of. There were nearly 2,500 people gathered on the ellipse to watch the lighting of what is said to be the world's largest menorah. In fact, it almost appears to dwarf the National Christmas Tree.
The event was put together (as it is every year) by the American Friends of Chabad Lubavitch. It was complete with a dancing dreidel and three fantastic cantors who even participated in a colorful rendition of the dreidel song. Yes, the entire ceremony was clouded by another ceremony going on just yards away (evidently THEIR ceremony has been going on since 1948, our bad, really). So you'd hear some tunes from the Nutcracker speech as the rebbe talked about light and darkness. There were children, grandparents, Holocaust survivors and newborns. There were Chabad, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, and some guy who tried really hard to sing along to the dreidel song. But really, who DOESN'T know the dreidel song?
When the ceremony, speeches and songs (my favorite being "Oseh Shalom" of course), everyone attacked the latke/donut booth. They gave away two latkes a person and as many donuts as you could carry. They had small apple sauce cups (no sour cream!) and a variety of delicious drinkable products. As I was leaving to go back to work, scarfing a jelly-filled donut, I passed a bunch of women speaking Hebrew. I kept wanting to say "Slicha! At mavinah anglit!?" Just to say something in Hebrew to an Israeli counterpart. Alas, I stuffed my face and kept on walking. I seriously power-walked back to work. I said "I'll be gone an hour!" but ended up taking a two-hour hiatus from the not-so-pressing grind of the news business.
Oh! I also picked up a menorah set. Yes, I have my own. Can you have too many chanukiot? Yes, yes you can. I'm fond of the one-for-everyone plan, so I'll be giving this one away. It's cute, though.
I intend on posting photos and video of the event tomorrow, after my camera's batteries have recouped and recharged. For then you will hopefully see the dancing menorah and the three cantors (the three tenors have NOTHING on these guys).
And finally, on the Chanukah vibe, a word from Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, who spoke at the lighting and who had some pretty inspiring things to say: We should not be fighting darkness, we should be bringing light into the world. It is that statement that I likely will be writing about in the next few days. I'm curious whether light can be brought into the world, when there is darkness, without fighting the darkness. Can you ignore darkness for the sake of light? Curious. I will elaborate!
In other news, I'm a hero! No, really, a genuine hero! Okay, so I didn't do all the work, but I did some. I came home after work tonight, dropped my things and headed out front to check my mail (which is on the porch of the house I live in, and I live in the basement with a side entrance that is beyond a gate. So I have to walk through the gate, down some stairs, out onto the sidewalk, up the porch stairs, and there I am). As I came out of the gate, I noticed a man running across the street yelling at a woman, but I couldn't understand what they were saying. I then looked two houses down and there was a fire in the ivy leaves (most people round here don't have front lawns of grass, but rather just large patches of ivy leaves). The man was on the phone calling 911 and the woman, who I then realized was horribly cracked out and smoking a cigarette, was jabbering senselessly. The moment he got off the phone, a woman came out of her house and said she had a hose that might reach. The cracked out lady then quickly walked away, mumbling and yelling. So we got a pot and a big bowl and started throwing water at the patch of ivy leaves that swarmed up a tree. We were worried that if we didn't get the fire out soon, it would work ALL the way up the tree.
We put the fire out and THEN the fire truck arrived, figures. Turns out the house is empty right now, but used to be a doctor's office/house. The doctor evidently "taught" or "schooled" the children of drug addicts, or "crackbabies." Interesting, I think.
Anyhow, it was my good deed for the night and it gave me a chance to talk with the neighbors, who I realized are my age. Maybe more chance encounters will wind me up with some friends? Hah.