Resource Category: Hanukkah

On Hanukkah and the season of giving, it can be easy to forget to give to yourself this time of year. That’s why we have created these Hanukkah Resources and our Mental Health Menorah or “Hanukkiah” to help you stay grounded and healthy, build resilience, and avoid burnout this holiday season.

The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle. — Irving Greenberg

Hanukkah, the holiday of lights, is one of the warmest times of the year, meant to be spent immersed in the love of friends and family. But for many caregivers, preparation for this holiday and all of its material expectations can become overwhelming and stressful. Whether they’re parents, teachers or healthcare providers, they can feel overextended to a dangerous degree. This feeling is only exacerbated by the fact that so many of us are culturally inclined to not see our own well-being and ability to function as a priority. Rather, the modern individual is pressured to “achieve” and “hustle,” leaving very little room for rest. This perspective is disastrous to our mental health and inevitably leads to burnout.
An excerpt from Lucie Waldman’s book, The Jots of Becoming: A journey of hope and recovery. Available on Amazon in Kindle and print editions. This was written in anticipation of Chanukah, but its themes can apply more universally in recovery. The holidays, no matter what religion, are an extraordinarily difficult time for me and for most people with Eating Disorders because it often comes with changes in scheduling in treatment, different foods, and seeing different family members. All in all, it’s a lot of change.
On Hanukkah, we light the eight candles of the Menorah. The 9th candle is the Shamash, – a helper candle used to light the other candles. We know Hanukah is the festival of lights, and the opposite of light is darkness. For thousands of years, Jewish people have evolved through periods of light and darkness. We can all relate to what this may feel like. Today, we hope that through education, dialogue, and storytelling, along with the incredible power of our community, we continue to see the miracles of light and hope.
As the Jewish people commemorate the miraculous victory of the poorly armed Maccabee army, we as therapists are acutely aware of a different uphill battle being fought daily – recovery from addiction – and the modern-day miracles being uncovered throughout the process. Here are three lessons we have gleaned from work with those in recovery from addiction that have helped inspire a deeper Hanukkah experience.
During Hanukkah we celebrate miracles. The miracle of a few inexperienced Maccabees defeating a huge, powerful army. The miracle of one small jar of pure oil lasting for eight days instead of one. The miracle of the survival of the Jewish people for thousands of years despite endless challenges and obstacles. These miracles also represent a choice. A choice that Mattisyahu made when he announced, “We will fight!” A choice that the Jews made when they searched through the Temple ruins and said, “We will create light.” And a choice made by every Jew: We will go on.
The Hanukkah story, and especially the hanukkiah lights, are particularly relevant to those in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Hanukkah can be described as the triumph of spiritual light and lasting truth over darkness, emptiness, and falsehood.
Self-Care is a deeply Jewish ideal and can be found as early as the second chapter in the Torah. In the Hanukkah season, while we celebrate the season of giving, it can be easy to forget to give to yourself this time of year. Use our mental health Menorah to help you stay grounded and healthy and to remember to give to yourself just as much as you are giving to others this holiday season.
Coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest.
Gratitude is so important for helping to foster happy and mentally healthy children. The Hanukkah story, and especially the hanukkiah lights, represent a time of miracles that we should be grateful for. Hanukkah can be described as the triumph of spiritual light and lasting truth over darkness, emptiness, and falsehood. Add gratitude to your candle lighting with this fun resource.