Living in Israel is the first time I’ve been properly living away from my family, and so as I go through my first year here, with each Chag that comes up I find there is something new I need to buy. Each thing I collect along the way adds to my life as a Jew living in Israel, so it has to be just right for me. Which means it’s not always straightforward finding it.
When Purim came and I was looking for a Megillat Esther, I thought about the one I would use each year in England, with the funny pictures. When I found one here with funny pictures, I had to have it! That was an easy one.
At Yom Kippur I went to countless different bookshops to find the exact white English-translation Sephardi machzor I would always use in my shul, but couldn’t find the white one anywhere. So I bought a maroon one instead and it made no difference because once you’re sitting in a Sephardi shul here with the Yom Kippur tunes you’ve grown up with, reading the familiar words inside the book, you get lost in the day, and can’t even remember what the outside of the machzor looks like anyway.
The few weeks before Chanukah I was very busy with two missions:
- Finding the perfect chanukiah.
- Sampling all the different beautiful doughnuts on display, because I knew that 8 days would not be enough to taste all the ones I wanted to!
My conclusion about the doughnuts: the best doughnut is the one you’re eating at any given moment. Except for the point when you might be feeling queasy.
Finding a chanukiah should not have been difficult, but I’m a davkanik and I refused to settle. This was the first time I would be lighting my own chanukiah, and I wanted one that I loved. The problem was all the beautiful chanukiahs were expensive, and all the cheap ones were plain, flimsy or just not to my taste. And there wasn’t much to choose from in between.
After hunting for a while, I eventually saw a style that I liked, but not the colours it came in – black or white. The search continued. Finally, just 3 days before Chanukah, I found my chanukiah. It was the one I’d seen previously and liked, but this time in the perfect colour – blue of course. It was the last one in the shop, and it had a small scrape on it, but that only made it even more perfect for me, because I have this thing where I sometimes prefer something when it’s imperfect… I don’t trust perfect things.
The 8 days went by too fast, and not just because there were still more doughnuts I hadn’t tried!
I lit my blue and white candles every night for 8 nights, a few warm and calm minutes in between all the celebrating and doughnut making and eating. And I appreciated what it really means to be celebrating Chanukah in Israel along with the whole country – remembering that we are still not complete without our Beit Hamikdash, but a miracle happened, and we pray for miracles to happen again.