The Sixth Night of Hanukkah: Rosh Chodesh
Da Costa’s ‘Hanukkah Moon’ reminds us that the sixth night of Hanukkah is a particularly special night of the holiday.
Let’s be honest; the magic of Hanukkah usually wears thin by the 6th night, and on what may seem like day ten-thousand-whatever of quarantine (especially if you have little ones) it might be a bit harder to ensure Hanukkah in the age of Covid is truely ‘8 crazy nights.’ A lesser known holiday in the Jewish tradition is Rosh Chodesh or the beginning of the month. While Hanukkah begins in the Jewish month of Kislev, the new month of Tevet begins on the 6th night of the holiday.
Jewish tradition celebrates each new month with additional prayers and historically gives women a half day off to connect with the cycles of the moon. In that sense, the sixth night should be doubly important. Deborah Da Costa’s beautiful children’s book ‘Hanukkah Moon’ goes beyond ancient traditions and adds a wonderful and inspiring dimension to the sixth night. Da Costa’s ‘Hanukkah Moon’ reminds us that the sixth night of Hanukkah is a particularly special night of the holiday.
Hanukkah Moon tells the story of Isobel, a girl who comes to spend the night at the home of her Aunt Louisa, who recently relocated from the United States to Mexico. Hanukkah at Aunt Louisa’s artfully fuses Ashkenazi Jewish rituals and Mexican traditions with a touch of personal flair. Each night brings Hanukkah surprises for Isobel.
From potato latkes and couscous to holiday songs in English and Spanish, Aunt Luisa teaches Isobel that there are many ways to celebrate the holiday. A skilled photographer, Aunt Louisa fashions a “Feliz Januca” sign from photos she has taken of birds in her yard. The two share Hebrew blessings and of course what is Hanukkah in Mexico without a dreidel piñata filled with chocolate coins and tiny prizes!
If you and your family are looking for a way to add an extra dimension to the sixth night of Hanukkah and its new moon, Deborah Da Costa’s book, aimed at children 6 and older, provides an opportunity to explore new ways of celebrating and learning about the global Jewish people. Taking time to read Da Costa’s lovely tale should not only inspire us to learn more about our Jewish cousins south of the border, but it can also provide a wonderful template for a lively Hanukkah moon celebration!
Use Be’chol Lashon’s children’s book resources to bring Da Costa’s ‘Hanukkah Moon’ to life with your family.
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder PhD. is the Rabbi-in-Residence at Be’chol Lashon and the editor of the blog Jewish&. A culinary historian and mother of 2, she lives and meditates in Atlanta. Follow her on Twitter @rabbiruth