How to Enjoy Hanukkah 2020 Safely

When is Hanukkah and how do you spell Hanukkah are perhaps the two biggest questions about the holiday! Whether you spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah, Hanukkah is on the evening of the 24th of Kislev, which in 2020 begins Thursday, December 10 and ends Friday, December 18.  It’s hard to believe that the year 2020 is coming to an end.   It has been a challenging year to say the least.  Some are healing physically and some emotionally. Many are wondering how to enjoy Hanukkah safely with others or how to enjoy it if they are on their own.

We are taught that life is not about what happens, but how we react. With that being said, there are many who will be facing another holiday without family and friends.  Some for health reasons, some have kids away at school and for some, the youngest child has just gotten married leaving parents now as empty nesters.  Sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone, in being alone.

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

How can I manage the holiday alone?

We don’t have to manage the holidays as if it is something to go through, but we can make it truly wonderful.  Here are some thoughts about ways to make the holidays a meaningful experience, and not just a passage of time.  

Happiness is interesting.  It can be brought on by many different things.  But regardless of what actually encourages us to feel happy, the state of happiness triggers the same kind of stimuli in our brains.  

Being sad or lonely is a separate feeling.  One can be happy about one thing while at the same time, be sad about another.  What we focus on more is what gets our attention and becomes the stronger feeling.  This is important because this leads us to our next thoughts and feelings. And, whether they will be positive or negative begins with us.  It may not always be easy, but we can (and must) work on our focus.

Focus is Almost Like a Muscle

The more we work on our focus, the more we strengthen it.  And this isn’t only true at moments we are actively using it.  Even during unexpected situations, we will have greater success. Imagine having to suddenly catch a heavy falling object. If we are fit, then we can exert the necessary strength when we need it.  It takes work, repetition and dedication to strengthen our ability to focus, but it can be done.  Be strong and separate the two concepts of the holiday: the inherent joy in the festival itself and who we are with (or not with).  We can then truly experience a special and memorable holiday.  

Chanukah Unites Us

Over forty years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn connected Jews all over the world via satellite to enjoy the Hanukkah menorah lighting together. As we all have seen more this year than any year before, we too can make use of technology to spread light all around the world. Whether you are lighting at home on your own or with family, get online during your menorah lighting to share one of the most meaningful parts of the holiday together with those you care about. And remember to give a big “amen” to each other as you say the blessings. 

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on 
PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 
7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

Learn the Blessings

On the first night, we say all three blessings.  On the remaining nights, we say the first two.  

In the first, we bless the lighting of the Hanukkah lights.  The second blessing mentions the miracles that G-d performed for those who came before us and for those miracles that He will also do for us.

The third blessing is said on the first night only.  It is a blessing that we say when we are doing a mitzvah for the first time that year. These words of gratitude are an expression of thanks that G-d has sustained us and brought us to celebrate this special moment.

1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

2. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

3. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

The Lyrics, The Tunes, The Instruments! 

After lighting the menorah, you can break out the song sheets and sing the songs you loved as a kid or learn them together.  Sing, stream or play them on a musical instrument. There is an abundance of Hanukkah music online to choose from.  So turn up the volume and turn up the holiday feeling.

Decorate for Chanukah

Decorate ahead in anticipation of Hanukkah.  From table settings to wall hangings and balloons, there’s nothing like walking into a room filled with decorations to get you feeling the festive vibe.  And the actual planning and decorating can really get you in the Hanukkah mood.

You can buy some decorations, make them yourself or a combination of the two.  There are plenty of DYI ideas and printables online. And here are some of my favorites you can order, like

Window Decorations


Ceiling Hanging Swirls




Hanukkah Meal Table Decorations


And I just love these Hanging Ball Lanterns


Milk Chocolate Coins – Hanukkah Gelt


Make your zoom call screen shots more festive and memorable with these Fun Photo Booth Props.


Get Your Dreidel Game On!  Whether you are playing in person together or online together.


Treat yourself or others to delicious holiday treats with these Hanukkah Cookie Cutters.


Review the History of Chanukah

In Jewish tradition, every physical thing has a spiritual equivalent.  Each historical event isn’t just something to be remembered. Jewish mysticism teaches that the power of the original event is also present and available for us each and every year on the anniversary of its original occurence.

2200 years ago, in the second century BCE, the Land of Israel was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks.  The Greeks objected to belief in the One G-d.  They tried to force the Jews to give up learning Torah and observing mitzvot.  Instead, they wanted the Jews to adopt the Greek culture and beliefs, which ran contrary to Judaism.

A small group of farmers, led by Judah the Maccabee, fought against the mighty Greek army. So mighty was the Greek Army, they were the first to employ the use of elephants during fighting. Without much military skill or equipment, the small band of Jews fought off the Greeks, drove them out of the land and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem to reinstitute the special services to G-d.  One of the special daily services in the time of the Temple was to light the seven-branched menorah.  

The Hanukkah Miracle

But there was no pure oil to be found, as the Greeks had damaged all the containers.  Then miraculously, one cruse of pure oil was found, enough for just one night.  The greater miracle was that the oil not only lasted 8 days, but that was the exact amount of time necessary to travel and acquire more pure oil.  Our Sages instituted the celebration of this historical event as an annual holiday to remember and publicize the revealed miracles of Chanukah.  

It also reminds us that the smallest amount of light can dispel a great amount of darkness.  Goodness is compared to the light, and the not good to the dark.  This season is a chance to spread our own unique light by rededicating ourselves to increasing in random acts of goodness and kindness.

Cook Special Hanukkah Foods

World Famous Latke Recipe

How about having a World Famous Latke Recipe? This is the latke recipe from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant at the main entrance of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy.  It may very well be the most eaten latke recipe on the planet, as we have served hundreds of thousands of latkes to guests from all over the world for more than 20 years! You can get my latke recipe here.

Latkes are delicious served with sour cream, apple sauce or whatever you fancy.  And it goes without saying, that the best latkes are followed up with delicoius Hanukkah doughnuts, or sufganiyot. Whether you buy some or make them at home, there is a filling for everyone’s taste: strawberry or cherry jelly, chocolate cream, vanilla custard and more!  

Deliver a Special Hanukkah Package to Someone

More often than not, giving is more fun than receiving. Buy or make a double batch of latkes or Hanukkah doughnuts and bring some joy to a neighbor, a colleague or a teacher. What better way to bring a smile to someone’s face during the holidays than sharing and showing you are thinking of them.

Send Chanukah Greetings

Make a list of ten people (or more) to send Chanukah greetings to, via online cards.  This is probably one of the easiest ways to bring a smile to someone’s face.  It may seem like a simple gesture, but receiving an e-card with a personal message is heart-warming.  It is taught, “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.”

Spread Light

King Soloman, wrote in Proverbs: “The soul of man is a lamp of G-d.” A lamp is made up of a wick, oil and a container to hold the oil.  All the parts are needed to produce light. A wick instantly would burn to ash if not for the oil to sustain its flame.  Oil can’t easily be lit on its own, if at all.  

But when all three parts are brought together, they can produce a flame that is strong and constant.  The same goes for our soul.  What does it mean to be the lamp of G-d?  We are here for a Divine purpose: to elevate the physical world with spirituality.  G-d supplies us with the oil, the Torah and mitzvot.  The physicality of our lives is the wick.  We use our hands to light the Hanukkah menorah or to put a coin in a charity box.  We use our mouths to say a blessing before eating or drinking.  

We must combine our physical wick (our good actions) with our spiritual oil (Torah and mitzvot), and internalize their significance, as we are the lamp.  

Be the Light!

Fill yourself, ignite yourself and shine. Not only for those around you, but shine also for yourself.  Feel the warm glow of our traditions and the warmth of the strength and comfort of getting through these challenging times, as we look ahead toward the future. Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy Hanukkah filled with light and joy!

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about Hanukkah this year. Leave me your comments below. xo

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