Inside Israel – The First Chanuka Light

So glad you could stop by today and get a glimpse inside Israel, as J of Jerusalem shares about the first Chanuka light. Enjoy and God bless you and your families!

Chanuka 2010 1 Dec 2010

As our younger daughter and I lit our first (of 8) Chanuka candle tonight, we thanked God for His Light…Yeshua, Jesus, The Light of the world…the light that shines in darkness and pierces it…for whosoever will. Thank You, Lord for lighting my darkness and joining me to Your family of those lit by Your Light!

I traveled home from visiting my husband in the hospital today hoping for a fast trip…perhaps 20 minutes. But as the rest of my day went, so did my ride; I arrived home almost 2 hours after I went to the bus stop! The sky was dark by the time I alighted from the bus and many of the public Chanukah’s were already lit. I had a long time to think about something The Lord impressed upon my heart earlier today after running my third failed errand this morning. Dropped into my heart, as I was fretting over wasted, precious time were the words ‘There is no such thing as ‘wasted time’. It is all victory if you walk it patiently and graciously. Remember…it is how you walk the path’. ‘But Lord, I am so very tired, and I have more to do then I CAN do.’ No. I dare not protest! Do I know more then HIM?? Does the pot say to the potter…why?? ‘Yes, Lord. Teach me.’ So, on this final bus ride home He continued to point out much to me. This bus runs through a very religious neighborhood and there was not one complaint voiced on the bus although we stood in gridlock traffic for so very long. That alone was a wonderful and unique experience…no complaining!

The hospital that my husband has been in for the past 3 weeks is an interesting one…different from the one that he was in for the first 2 weeks. This hospital, besides being a rehabilitation center, is also a geriatric and psychiatric hospital. It is one run on mercy. It sits adjacent to the Jerusalem cemetery (har h’minukhah), Mountain of Rest. Years ago my husband and I were horrified to pass an old age home named ‘Fare well rest haven’. It was right next to a cemetery and we thought that was incredibly cynical. But we found this hospital, with it’s placing, very peaceful.

Growing up, the food that I identified with Chanuka was ‘latkes’…a deep fried potato pancake which we topped with applesauce, but the Chanuka food here is ‘sovganioat’…a deep fried jelly donut (over the past few years, chocolate, halva, caramel and icing have also appeared). Foods identified with Chanuka ARE ‘deep fried’ because ‘Light’ and ‘oil’ are synonymous in the middle east, where oil lamps still burn. I had stopped at the shuk on the way to the hospital and purchased 12 sovganioat, an inexpensive chanukiah (candelabra for Chanuka) and candles to bring to the hospital to share with the staff … because… you see…besides tonight being the first light of Chanuka, it is also another special day: it is the last day for my husband to be in hospital. He is to be released tomorrow morning!

And THAT is why I was scurrying around today, like a chicken without a head, attempting to jump through all of the bureaucratic hoops necessary for his release.

Chanuka, I know that you remember, is the celebration for LIGHT…for it commemorates the multiplication of the oil for the menorah in the temple after it had been defiled by the Greeks. The Macabbis found only enough pure oil to keep the lamps burning for 1 day, and it required a week to produce the pure oil. God miraculously kept the Light burning…as He still does! Thus the holiday is kept some 2,000 years later with the lighting of special candlestick (Chanukiah)…8 lights and one ‘servant light’, the ‘shamus’ to light the rest – first night we light one candle, the next night 2, and so forth. I have shared the story and traditions many times. This year Chanuka is VERY early, and no one seems quite ‘ready’. It is celebrated on the 25th of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which is lunar.

As with all of our various hospital stays, the roommates make such a strong impact, and this last stay was no different. My husband, being the youngest resident, (and since he is 65 that is saying something!) was placed with another ‘young man’ (56) who had suffered a stroke. He is a Moslem, and his name is Ruef. When we entered the room his family eyed us suspiciously, so I reached out warmly to them and his wife was the first to respond. She spoke some English, and he speaks Hebrew so we were soon fast friends. It was interesting to see his 3 grown sons enter the room daily, each one approaching him individually and bowing on their knee, kissing his hand and then pressing it to their forehead (as in blessing) 3 times. Today I asked him about it: ‘It has been interesting to me watching your sons greet you’ I began. ‘It seems to me that you are an important man…perhaps you are the village chief?’ I asked. He warmed to my sincerity and smiled; ‘Yes I am.’ he answered. ‘Such power must be used with great wisdom and compassion’ I commented. Again he smiled; ‘This is right and this I have also received. I became chief through my mother and I received her compassion and wisdom. All of the village comes to me to settle problems. There is one thing I do not tolerate; no man may speak badly of his wife. I have never lifted my voice to my wife. I have shown her respect and so she has always respected me. Our children must do the same.’ His words reminded me of an article my I had just read to my husband about the Druze. They follow the laws of Noah and are extremely moral people. I also thought back to the book of Judges and realized that that is what Ruef does… he ‘judges’ his people and he does it wisely.

I brought Ruef a sovganioat just as his family brought us some of their sweets for a recent feast that they had. Hertzog hospital is a religious hospital, but once again, there is no prejudice, and great mercy is shown to everyone. Although I left before the candle lighting tonight, my husband called and told me how several older men came and lead in the blessings of the lighting of the candles and songs. Soon after a group of young people came and danced and handed out more sovganioat. Another group of children came and sang songs. He was very touched by the warmth, as was Ruef. Peace, His peace, is the only thing that can bring peace into the hearts of those caught up in strife. I am thankful to be an instrument of His Peace in small ways. It is a blessing to see that His Light still lights up small corners.

I know that this is an inadequate letter, but I wanted to share the love of His Light…and ALSO…

TWO ANSWERS TO PRAYER: The first you have heard already; my husband is to come home tomorrow! The second is like the first…our older daughter called with the wonderful news that they signed a rental contract today on the top floor of a house in a moshav much nearer to us (although still a bit of a trek). It is on a very pretty, rural moshav that has horses. Thank you SO much for holding our ‘crisis to crisis’ family on prayer. He is SO faithful!

May The faithful Light of the world, Light our hearts and paths…for His glory alone! Lovingly, your very tired sis

ani b’derek


  1. Deb,
    Thanks for sharing these glimpses from the life of a believer living in Jerusalem. I am so touched by her faith and the simple joys of her life and it is evident Christ lives supreme in their lives. I am so inspired by her comment about the delayed bus ride and God’s response to her as also her appreciation for the cultural festivities and being able to connect it back to Jesus Christ, our messiah! I pray her husband would be discharged and all goes well for her daughter with the new home 🙂
    In Him,

  2. J’s faith touches me too. That is why I just had to share her e-mails. Felt they conveyed something so precious that would help everyone. Thank you for praying, Vineet. Your prayers are precious too.

  3. Deb, J’s testimony was lovely. We are a mixed family: First husband Jewish, with whom I had a daughter; “Last” husband (hey, if this doesn’t work out, I’m done) is actually a pastor in the United Church of Christ. So we light the Menorah and the tree lights as well. One winter Riley and I made a peace sign out of blue lights for the front window.


  4. You have a unique and special family, that God treasures and uses in unique and special ways! 🙂 and Amy . . .I received your chapbooks and was thrilled with them! I feel so privileged to read your poems! God bless you and your wonderful way of serving and glorifying Him!

  5. Thanks for your post. I come here and read, getting glimpse of insight into your life. I feel I learn from you. Your path reminds me to think of what God has for me.

    Peace, and glad your husband is returning home.

  6. I will let her know, Chef E! She wrote me recently and said she doesn’t read her “posts” on Sundays. ha! Too embarrassed, she said . . .but she shouldn’t be! Thanks for your support!
    by the way . . .I think I saw a lovely you today at the store! It was so hard not to say Hi! haha! You already showed us your double, so you must have triples! 🙂 It made me happy to think of you even if this lady wasn’t you.

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