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DARK SIDE OF THE MENORAH

Grownup Chanukah Stories

I went on a random search for similar "balabusta" solutions for the miraculous by really lengthy festival of lights.
Grownup Chanukah Stories

Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

I liked so much this picture of a frum lady filling up her menorah cups with what appears to be your garden variety salad oil, that I went on a random search for similar “balabusta” solutions for the miraculous by really lengthy festival of lights. I found the following discussion from 2010 on Jewish Women’s forum.

npl: There’s got to be a better way of dealing with the oil cups for the Chanukah menorah, but I have yet to find it. DH is away till tomorrow night, so it falls to me to set up the table, the Chanukah menorah, deal with the oil cups, etc.

I took down the two containers of glass oil cups we had (2 different sizes from when some broke) and found that I didn’t have enough of either, and that they hadn’t been totally cleaned when they were put away. So, I soaked them yesterday and went to finish cleaning them today when one glass cracked and I cut my finger. All this while wearing the baby on my back, and I couldn’t take her off until I fixed up my finger. Now I have only 6 matching oil glasses, none of which are totally clean because the oil and soot don’t wash off.

And then I have to try to figure out how much water and oil to put in and how to do the wicks. DH tried to explain on Skype, but I won’t know if I got it right till I light them. I know I can buy the pre-filled cups, but they are so expensive.

Any other suggestions on how to handle this mitzvah? I’m aspiring to do it b’simcha, rather than worrying about the logistics and the mess and the fire hazards.

zuncompany: I buy the disposable ones.

npl: They’re about $45 per pack here – can’t justify the cost over the reusable cups and regular olive oil.

zuncompany: Honestly for me cause we kept breaking the cups and having to buy new, buy oil, have it all shipped in – it came out to be about the $30 I spent on the disposable ones anyway… But that’s our situation. That’s the only easier way I know of to deal with it.

Marion: Laundry detergent and boiling water; the stuff comes right off!

npl: liquid or powder detergent? All I have is NatureClean Liquid, which does a good job on the laundry but isn’t super-strong (despite being concentrate).

I’ll have to try that another time. I am afraid to touch them right now.

Do you use a brush? I tried using an old toothbrush one year and it just trapped the oil and spread it further. This time I used my bare hands, which is how I got the cut.

U Tarzan Me Jane: A little bit of steel wool, that’s what I use on my Shabbat lights. I buy the disposable kind for Chanukah…. Worth every penny for us.

Estie: I bought a new set of 9 cups (about $6) and the tzinorit wicks (about $4) – (they don’t use water and they don’t burn the cups – the ones with the long stick in the middle). Cheaper than disposable, but I spent $10 without the oil. I light oil for Shabbos and that is the best system.

Oh, and I’ve stuck them in the dishwasher.

npl: Estie – thanks for the recommendations. I’ll look for them when I shop next. Even at $10 plus olive oil (I pay less than $10 for a bottle and use a small fraction over Chanukah) that’s still less than half the cost of the pre-filled.

When you put them in the dishwasher, how to you keep them from rattling around and breaking?

Can you clarify about not using water and burning the cups, please? Is it the water that causes the black sooty stuff, or the wicks? or a combination?

UTMJ – I can see using the steel wool for my neronim, but the cups I have for Chanukah are really thin, and when this one cracked I was hardly using any pressure but a whole section just broke off in the middle, so I’m scared to rub them at all now.

chavamom: Steel wool!

Estie: I put them in the cutlery basket

It is the fire that burns the sides of the glass, but the tzinorit setup is a gold stick with a circle on the bottom that sits in the cup. Then a long red wick goes in and the fire stays above the cup. You can fill the cup as high as you want. The wick gets the oil from the bottom.

And on and on. reading this exchange felt like I had just walked into my wife’s tea with a bunch of friends, and almost overstayed my welcome because I just had to hear more about how each woman was managing the side of Chanukah not to be found in Sefer Maccabim.

Incidentally, editing this dialogue I discovered that not a single Jewish woman here knows how to spell “disposable.” Also, the lady going by the nickname zuncompany has posted 23,515 messages, as of December, 2010.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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