Day 7 of #Hanukkah8Days4Climate

Day 7: Hold the Havdalah cerremony ending Shabbat and then a Hanukkah candle-lighting in public space, calling for making a distinction between these times of climate apathy and the coming times of transformative climate healing.

[For other resources by Faryn Borella and Rabbi Arthur Waskow on celebrating Hanukkah that can help us all to heal our wounded Earth, please see the Home Page of The Shalom Center at Faryn Borella is a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Ira Silverman Memorial Intern at The Shalom Center. – AW, editor]

“The Sages taught: It is a mitzvah [life-connecting action] to place the Hanukkah lamp at the entrance to one’s house on the outside, so that all can see it. If he lives upstairs, he places it at the window adjacent to the public domain.” Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 21b

It is common practice today to kindle our Hanukkah candles within our homes or places of worship. However, the rabbis of old instructed us that our hannukiot were to be lit and placed outside one’s home in order that they public may see it. And why is this? Rashi explains that the purpose of the Hanukkah lights is to “publicize the miracle,” and there is no publicizing without a public.

Therefore, we invite you for this seventh day of Hanukkah to communally renew the practice of public candle-lighting in order to publicize the miracle: publicize the miracle that resource conservation was possible, is possible, and will be possible. And we call upon you to do this at the close of Shabbat, when we choose to optimize the liminal space of twilight-into-night to separate between what is given us as sacred and what we must choose to make sacred, this time calling for a new separation--a separation between our existing time of climate apathy and the reign of fossil fuels into the coming times of transformative climate healing and a renewable future.

Below are kavanot (intentions) for each of the four blessings of the havdalah ritual that we offer you, to use as an offering at your Public Havdalah and Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony.


Kavanah: Why in Judaism are we so often called upon to bless wine, especially in moments of sanctity and transition? Because wine serves as an instrument to change our consciousness. Wine itself is a product of change. It begins as grape juice with a simple sweetness. Then it ferments, turning sour. And then it changes again, achieving a higher form of sweetness – the one that changes us. (Some among us refrain from wine and change their consciousness without its help.) Therefore, we are invited by wine to trust and to act so that transformation is possible; that  sometimes it can be sour, but can and will bend toward the good if we support it in doing so.

So too the collective consciousness can and will be transformed if we are willing to believe that it is possible and act to make it so. So let this wine serve as a reminder in seemingly dark times that the dark itself is not bad, but a part of the process of transformation--a transformation that we have the opportunity to midwife toward the good. 

Hebrew Blessing: Baruch Atah YHWH [Yahhh / HaShem], Eloheynu Ruach Ha’Olam, Borei P’ri Hagafen.

English Blessing: Blessed are you, Interbreathing Spirit of the universe, who creates the fruits of the vine.

Set aside the wine or grape juice to be drunk at the end of Havdalah.


Kavanah: Why, in Judaism, do we often smell spices at moments of transition? To remind us to breathe, for what is smelling but a form of deep breathe? And what is it that we are breathing? We are breathing out images and understandings of God that are hierarchical -- God as Lord, King, Judge -- and breathing in the true essence of the divine name YHWH--the one that is Breath (as you will sense if you try to pronounce it with no vowels -- YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh. As you smell the spices, breathe out a god that rewards and punishes and breathe in a God that understands the interrelatedness of all being--a God that has a preferential option for its continued sustenance. Breathe out a God of Domination and breathe in the God of the Ecological.

Hebrew Blessing: Baruch Atah YHWH [Yahhh / HaShem] Eloheynu Ruach Ha’olam, Borei m’nai b’samim.

English Blessing: Blessed are you, Breathing spirit of the universe, who creates various forms of spices.

Pass around the spices to be sniffed



We are the generations

That stand between the fires.

Behind us the fire and smoke

That rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima, 

Not yet behind us the burning forests of the Amazon,

torched for the sake of fast hamburger.

Not yet behind us the hottest years of human history

that bring upon us

Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.

Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.

Before us we among all life-forms

face the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,

The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.


To douse that outer all-consuming fire

We must light again in our own hearts

the inner fire of love and liberation

that burned in the Burning Bush.

The Fire that did not consume the Bush it burned in,

The Fire that must never be extinguished.

The fire in the heart of every community and all Creation. 

It is our task to make from inner fire

Not an all-consuming blaze

But the light in which we see more clearly

The Rainbow Covenant glowing

in the many-colored faces of all life.

Hebrew Blessing: Baruch Atah YHWH [Yahhh / HaShem] Eloheynu Ruach Ha’olam, Borei M’orei Ha’esh.

English Blessing: Blessed are you, breathing spirit of the universe, creator of the fire’s light.

Light the Havdalah candle. Lift your fingers to see in your own fingernails the inner sparks of holiness, sparks of the Burning Bush we carry within us. And turn to look at each other's eyes to see the holy light within our neighbors.


Kavanah: Why do we distinguish between what is holy (kodesh) and hollow -- waiting to be filled (chol), rather than considering everything of God’s creation as holy? For there are some things that God instills with holiness, while other things for which God asks of us to do that instilling. Though we are often told that chol means “profane,”  to be chol is actually to be like the chalil -- the flute.   To be hollow.

It is not that chol is inherently unholy, but rather that which is chol contains the potential to be holy, but requires of us to make it so. We distinguish between kodesh and chol to remind ourselves of our role as co-creators with the divine -- that the whole world can only emerge as holy if we participate in making it so. To remind us that we are accountable to Earth and responsible for its emergent holiness. And that it is incumbent upon us to fill the hollow with the holy.

Hebrew Blessing: Baruch Atah YHWH [Yahhh / HaShem],  Eloheynu Ruach Ha’olam, hamavdil bayn kodesh lechol bayn or lechoshech bayn yom hashevi’i leshayshet yemay hama’aseh. Baruch Atah YHWH [Yahhh / HaShem, hamavdil bayn kodesh lechol. 

English Blessing: Blessed are you, Breathing spirit of the universe, who makes a distinction between what is given us as holy and what comes to us as hollow open space, waiting for us to choose to fill it with holiness; between the light and dark; between the seventh day and the six days of doing/making. Blessed are You, Breathing One, who distinguishes between the holy and the hollow.

Drink the wine or grape juice and then douse the Havdalah candle in it. Why? Because we thus unite what seem to be opposites – Eysh or Fire and Mayim or Liquid into Shamayyim, that ultimate heavenly state in which opposites can live together in peace.

After doing the ceremony of Havdalah, lift up a communal Hanukkia or welcome the varied Hanniokot brought by members of the community. Light the shamash or initiator-candle and from it light seven candles of the Hanukkia. Invite people to give names or qualities of blessing to each of the seven candles of this evening.




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