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Honoring Departed Loved Ones During Hanukkah

Two happy Jewish sisters looking at a beautiful menorah candelabra glowing on the eight day of Hanukkah Jewish holiday

Hanukkah is, without a doubt, one of the most profound milestones within the Jewish faith. In simplest terms, it is an eight-day-and-night celebration of the tenacity of the Jewish spirit. Without a doubt, considering its supreme importance in Judaism, Hanukkah is, like Shiva, a quintessential opportunity to remember and celebrate those we’ve lost.

At Fox Monuments, we’ve helped Long Island’s Jewish community honor and celebrate their faith for decades. Traditions and practices regarding the end of life and lost loved ones is an incredibly significant (and complex) aspect of the Jewish faith. Therefore, part of our mission is to provide the kind of compassion, guidance and unforgettable service that pays both respect to lost loved ones and the appropriate reverence to faith.

In this post, we’ll explore five ways you can honor departed loved ones as you observe Hanukkah this year.

1. Storytelling Around the Lights

Once the menorah is lit, many families observe the tradition of singing songs, reading specific passages and reciting prayers. Mostly, the songs and prayers vary by family, as each have their own specific selections that they find most meaningful or appropriate. However, this is also an excellent opportunity to honor the memories of your lost loved ones.

If you’ve lost someone recently, this will be an even more impactful and emotional practice. Take a few minutes to share everyone’s collective memories of your loved one, and perhaps have others tell their favorite story about them. Even the simple act of acknowledging them, discussing, or just speaking their name out loud can be enormously significant.

Going around the room, give everyone present the opportunity to express gratitude for the ways the departed impacted their life. Hanukkah is the perfect time of year to firmly acknowledge that their enduring memories and legacy remain alive, as long as they live on in you.

2. Put Photos On Display

Of course, we take (and keep) photos so that our memories, and those we love, can live on long after we take them. Therefore, Hanukkah is the perfect time to put these pictures on display – not just to honor those you’ve lost, but to fondly remember Hanukkahs of the past.

Hanukkah is a time to revisit our collective history, celebrate our triumphs and remember our past. While Hanukkah is technically about revisiting our history on a collective scale, for all Jews, that doesn’t mean you can’t also acknowledge your personal memories, as well. Put a picture of those you’ve lost on prominent display, perhaps near the menorah. As a result, this will likely inspire whoever’s present to share specific memories and stories about them.

3. Prayers Following the Lighting

The spiritual teachings of Judaism enforce the idea that the moment a menorah candle flickers is a favorable time for prayer. One of these prayers can be a personal, heartfelt expression of our enduring love for whoever we’ve lost.

Of course, it’s very likely that you won’t be able to complete your prayers without sadness, and probably some tears. But that’s perfectly fine – it’s okay, likely even advisable, for you to have the cry you deserve. Feelings of loss, grief and sorrow are perfectly normal emotions. Also, expressing them is a healthy, typical, and necessary part of the process. Let your family and friends support you during this overwhelming moment.

In fact, mental health and grief experts tell us that experiencing the pain, rather than consistently trying to evade it, actually gives us advanced coping skills. Also, it helps us to feel better in the long-term.

4. Prepare Their Favorite Foods

There are fewer more resolute ways to honor a loved one (present or departed) than by preparing their favorite meals. Much like other Jewish holidays throughout the year, Hanukkah is a time to actualize our faith and gratitude with a festive, splendid meal. The Meal of Consolation isn’t the only meal that we may eat in memory of our departed loved ones.

Were there any specific recipes that your loved one was especially fond of?Was there anything they would often prepare themselves? What was their all-time favorite food? Contributing their favorite, or their signature, dish is a fantastic way to honor them. Also, this will allow you to share their memory with the friends and family present.

Conclusion – Fox Monuments

From our family at Fox Monuments, we wish you and your family the very safest, healthiest and happiest of Hanukkahs! This has been an especially challenging year for us all, and you and your loved ones deserve an exceptional holiday season to finish this year with a bit of celebration.

Hanukkah is a day about hope, and to remind us of our historical ability to triumph over adversity. Therefore, it’s important to keep the spirit of Hanukkah in mind as we conclude a particularly difficult year.v

Happy holidays from Fox Monuments!