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A Lesson in Light, Love and Language

Most of the time things that last longer than we thought they would are bad things. Like 2020—a year of 365 days which has somehow taken a whole decade to pass. But Chanukah is one time that something lasted longer than we thought it would, and it was good. Long story short (hey, I’ve only got 500 words here) a jar of oil was lit in a Jerusalem temple reclaimed from some folks who tried (unsuccessfully) to kill us off when they couldn’t convert us. This jar was the last of the oil and was only enough to keep the temple lit for one night. Instead it lasted eight, giving us the time we needed to acquire more. And so we celebrate the eight nights of Chanukah with a nightly lighting of the menorah and gift giving. Here are some great options for Chanukah gifts this year.

Judaica: These are objects having to do with Jewish life and customs: Star of David jewelry, Menorahs and mezuzahs, for example. The Congregation Albert Judaica Shop in Albuquerque (3800 Louisiana Blvd. NE) carries a lot of Judaica, both traditional and modern. Accessibility this year may vary because of the pandemic, so contact them when you’re ready to shop to see if it’s open.

There are also a few local artists with Esty shops you can buy from online and have the gift delivered directly to your loved one. Search Etsy for Aspen Tree Jewelry, Meredith Gould Arts or Hershel’s Woodworks for everything from silver jewelry to wooden mezuzahs made here in Albuquerque.

Tchotchke: Yiddish for knickknack or trinket, it’s an item that doesn’t break the bank, but shows someone you are thinking of them. For tchotchkes with New Mexico flavor, buy from Little Paw Designs in Albuquerque via Etsy for gifts for the pet-lovers in your life and Brotique 505, an Albuquerque store with full of locally produced wares, in person (3600 Cutler Ave NE, 14) or via its website (brotique505.com).

Nosh: Yiddish for snack or light meal. Ever seen the meme “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!” and gone “Huh?” It’s a reference to the fact that many Jewish holidays are celebrated for times in history when someone attempted to kill us all off but were unsuccessful. How do we celebrate having survived these attempts? With food of course! So help your Jewish loved one celebrate Hanukkah with a nosh. Check out websites for The Brew (thebrewabq.com) and Soo Bak Seoul Bowl (soobakfoods.com) to purchase gift certificates for nosh-worthy gifts.  

Tikkun Olam: A Hebrew phrase, this is the concept of “World repair” in Judaism. Tikkun Olam is the concept that there are things in this world that have been unjustly broken, and it’s the job of every Jewish person to work to fix them. So this year consider celebrating Chanukah by making a donation to a local good cause in the name of your loved one. My favorite places to donate are the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico and Lap Dog Rescue of New Mexico. 

So in a year when the amount of  bad things has been way too much, let’s remember a time when too little of a good thing turned out to be just enough. Happy Chanukah! [ ]

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