Last night I had a dream of a white…Hanukkah. I was back in Jerusalem and it was snowing on December 13th, my birthday. I woke up in the morning, snowflakes were falling from the window of my apartment on the second floor of building #5 in the Cvar Ha-studentim, and I thought “it’s going to be a great day!”.
I woke up and got ready for my Hebrew class. At the Hebrew University, the atmosphere was festive! Students were playing in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other. When I entered the classroom, I was redirected into a much bigger room where all the Rothberg (international) students were assembled to learn more about this holiday. A holiday that one too many people consider to simply be “a Christmas for Jews.” We learned about the history, and miracles and traditions of Hanukkah.
In my dream, the teachers were singing Hanukkah songs and teaching us the words. There were dreidels spinning at every corner of the room and chocolate coins. We finished the class earlier than usual and went to have lunch at the cafeteria.
In the afternoon – yes, this was a very long dream! – I went to the Old City Hanukkah tour I had registered for with my mom, who was visiting from Italy. I love the Old City, the crowds and the scents, the sensation of being in one of the holiest places in the world, the muezzin’s call to prayer, the sound of the shofar on Friday evening, the tourists crowding the Holy Sepulcher. It makes sense that in my Hanukkah dream I was in the Old City.
My dream was so vivid that this morning I can still remember all of my feelings and impressions. With my university friends we went to see some Orthodox families lighting the 8 candles of the last day of Hanukkah. The most emotional thing was not looking at the candles, but at the faces of the kids brightening when the match lit the candles one by one, each candle not isolated, but adding more light to the previous one.
As a philosophy student, my brain wanted to add some philosophical moments to the Hanukkah dream. So, I dreamed of going to the house of a philosophy teacher and discussing miracles with him: what they are, their religiosity, and their superstitious meaning – all while eating some delicious sufganiot (jelly donuts) his wife had just made. These treats were the kind you can find only in Jerusalem: warm, fluffy, and sweet, with the powdered sugar falling all over your clothes. In my dream I picked the raspberry one, my favorite!
Afterwards, my dream brought me to the top of one of the Old City buildings, playing some Hanukkah trivia with my friends and using chocolate coins as prizes! I don’t remember much that happened during the game, but the view was phenomenal. Candles still burning in the entire quarter in hanukkiot small enough to be held by kids, and big to cover the length of a building: it was Christmas… on steroids!
My white Hanukkah dream ends with a walk in the snow in Mamillah, talking with my mom about the day that had just passed, and celebrating my birthday with a hot glass of sachlab. The snow is smooth under my feet and the sound of it feels like a lullaby to me.
In my dream…
I have never really woken up from my dream – indeed I was never exactly dreaming, or at least not literally. I was more daydreaming. Or, more accurately, remembering. Remembering that wonderful day 10 years ago when I was living in Jerusalem, and it was Hanukkah, and Jerusalem was covered in snow, and it was my 25th birthday. They say dreams can come true, but sometimes I prefer to just bring the past back by day-dreaming about it!
Hanukkah sameach le culam!
About the Author: Daniela is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group.
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