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10 Hanukkah Quotes That Celebrate The Hope & Humor Of The Holiday

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The wisdom of Hanukkah is found all over in the rich and beautiful tapestry of the Jewish people. Sometimes it's found in oral tradition, sometimes in the written word, and sometimes it's found in humor and wit. That's why the best Hanukkah quotes range from inspiring to pithy to downright silly, and they all represent the vast personalities of the Jewish religion and its people.

Personally, I have never been to a Hanukkah celebration where someone doesn't make a joke about the quality of the gelt minutes after saying the Al Hanisim prayer in thanks for the everyday miracles. It's just the natural order of things. However, with the recent rise in Anti-Semitic crimes, according to The Wall Street Journal (some in my very own Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, as reported on by The Brooklyn Paper), some of these quotes feel more necessary. A reminder that no matter what Jews have faced, are facing, and will undoubtedly face in the future, there is light and reason to celebrate. Just as a small amount of olive oil could burn for eight days, so does the inner light within the hearts and souls of Jewish people all over the world.

1. On Hope

"Sometimes, a flame can be utterly extinguished. Sometimes, a flame can shrink and waver, but sometimes a flame refuses to go out. It flares up from the faintest ember to illuminate the darkness, to burn in spite of overwhelming odds."

— Karen Hesse, The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories Of Hanukkah Through History

2. From Our Ancestors

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“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” — Anne Frank

3. Wise Words

"Like the Maccabees, most people want the right to pray to God in their own way. This right is called freedom of religion. The spirit of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is shared by all people who love freedom."

— Norma Simon, The Story of Hanukkah

4. The Shammash

“Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart” —Hannah Senesh

5. The Flames

“Just as Hanukkah candles are lighted one by one from a single flame, so the tale of the miracle is passed from one man to another, from one house to another, and to the whole House of Israel throughout the generations.” — Judah Leon Magnes

6. On Miracles

“The miracle, of course, was not that the oil for the sacred light — in a little cruse — lasted as long as they say; but that the courage of the Maccabees lasted to this day: let that nourish my flickering spirit.” — Charles Reznikoff, "Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays"

7. We Deserve An Update

Put on your yarmulke, here comes Chanukah

So much fun-ukah to celebrate Chanukah

Chanukkah is the Festival of Lights,

Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree,

Here’s the fourth list of people who are Jewish, just like Jesus, Olaf, Punky Brewster, Scott Rudin, and me! — Adam Sandler

(We deserve a 2019 update.)

8. We're All Thinking It

"It's either we pretend we like each other, or aunt Nora is going to make us go see Cats." — Me, on the phone earlier. Pass the kosher wine.

9. On Power

"There were times when any other people would have given up in despair: after the destruction of the Temple, or the massacres of the crusades, or the Spanish Expulsion, or the pogroms, or the Shoa. But somehow Jews did not sit and weep. They gathered what remained, rebuilt our people, and lit a light like no other in history, a light that tells us and the world of the power of the human spirit to overcome every tragedy and refuse to accept defeat." — Rabbi Sacks

10. Be Strong

“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” —Jewish Proverb

11. Be Seen

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen