The holidays of Kwanzaa and The holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving. are an opportunity for us to reconnect with our community and remember the miracles of light, love and hope. As we reflect on miracles, we also affirm the power we play in the dynamic energies of the universe. We accept our grandeur and work together to repair our community.
Cleanse yourself on the first day of Hanukkah and the last day of Kwanzaa. I suggest a Yoruba cleansing that purposefully focuses on clearing energy on the first day of Hanukkah and submerging into the The ritual bath. The waters of the mikveh symbolically purify – they are seen as waters of rebirth. A convert immerses in the mikveh as part of conversion. Many Orthodox married women go to the mikveh following their period and before resuming sexual relations. Couples go to the mikveh before being married. Many, including some men, immerse before Yom Kippur; some go every Friday before Shabbat. on the last day of the secular new year. As you partake in the traditions of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, also consider the meditations of your heart.
The following meditations will reconnect you to the energy of the earth and the spirit of your being. The reflections will also provide you with affirming beliefs that will remind you of “home.” A place of acceptance, peace and unconditional love.
I am the universe and I hold within me the power to bind the moon, stars and the sun to the sky. I connect the planets because I am the force that inspires them to orbit. I am the light that gives hope to the night and warmth to the day. I am the power that gives birth to generations and connects our heritage in one community. We are in community as one family. We are in community as one people. We are in community as a unified human race that bonds together in one love.
I have my own voice and will not allow anyone to speak for me. I have found freedom in my being and liberation in my self love. No one can speak for me or represent me… because I am like no other being in this universe. No one has walked my walk and therefore, cannot talk my talk. I am determined to be the greatest person I can be and to use my own voice without fear and intimidation. I am self-empowered to accept myself and love all of me.
The colorful candles melt under the flames and they blend into one. Together they create a beautiful mixture with each color clearly defined, yet they all bond to create the flame that brings light into the world. Just as this candle has its purpose, so do we. We must understand that what impacts one, impacts us all. If one fails, we all fail. If one suffers, we all suffer, and if one succeeds, we all succeed. We must be determined to do what we can to make sure that everyone is cared for and everyone thrives.
We support one another and understand that the power we have is related to our authentic care for one another. We must invest in one another and help one another, but more important than money, we must do what we can to invest in the emotional, social, and spiritual well-being of our sisters and brothers. We must contribute to the education and upliftment of our community to ensure that we all benefit from the talents, gifts and wisdom of everyone young and old.
I embody the extraordinary. I am excellent in all things and believe that being bold and free is the key to experiencing joyfulness. I do everything with purpose and grit. There is nothing I cannot do because I come from a people who have persevered through treacherous times. I come from strong warriors and thus I am a modern-day fighter. I fight for Charity. In Hebrew, the word tzedakah derives from the word for justice. Tzedakah is not seen as emanating from the kindness of one’s heart but, rather, as a communal obligation. (justice) and ahava (love). I celebrate my heritage and claim my throne. I am a regal being that brings forth the light of the galaxies… I am the glory in the essence of the universe.
Innovation requires courage and confidence. It may even demand for one to be tenacious. So, I will always challenge myself to be creative. I dare to not only make changes, but BE the difference that is needed to make my community, nation and world great. I will use my creative genius to purposefully add value to my community and evolve to ensure our infinite survival.
I believe in myself. I have faith in the miracle of redemption, restoration and revelations. I know that miracles have sustained us and will continue to light our path. We have endured slavery, wars, persecution and hate. We will continue to collaboratively connect and work as a team to ensure healing and peace. During the bleak moments when we can’t see, we will know that the light we embody within us will glow like the brightest moon… powerful and purposefully.
The miracle of light is like freedom to love
it is like an eagle that soars liberated from a cage
and flying above
the mountains and streams
peering below she sees
She leads the flock
and the light she beams
onto the seas
it captures the essential energy
and throws it up
into the sky
and sparkles so many lights
twinkling in the beautiful darkness
and reminding us all
of community, miracles, love and resilient hope.
Download the full Kwanzakkah guide below, republished with permission from the group Black Yids Matter. The guide below designates the eighth day of Hanukkah as Kwanzakkah. To participate in a virtual Kwanzakkah click here. To learn more about the intersections between Kwanzaa and Hanukkah read Dr. Johnson’s blog post.