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    Chanukah is better at home

    Samson Raphael Hirsch reminds us that it is more important to kindle the Chanukah lights at home than in the synagogue. The rule is ner ish uveito, “a light in one’s own house”.

    No matter how impressively the rabbi speaks or how beautifully the chazan sings, this is no guarantee, says Hirsch, that Judaism will survive: “The important thing is how your children and babies prattle, whether the Jewish spirit shines in them, whether Jewish sap flows in their veins, whether the Jewish way of life is their education – on this depend victory and deliverance.”

    Hirsch is emphasising an aspect of Jewish education which we often ignore. Formal instruction at school will never be enough without a Jewish basis in the home.

    If children go through their early infancy taking it for granted that a family has Shabbat candles and Kiddush, a Seder on Pesach and a sukkah on Sukkot, a chanukkiyah on Chanukah and the Shema twice every day, those children will be safe as Jews.

    In Hirsch’s words, “the Jewish way of life is their education”.

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