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Contributed by: Hannah Stoddard

Since our family has Jewish ancestry and because we came to realize, several years ago, that “Hanukkah” is connected to the birth and prophetic mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we celebrate our own version of this day each year and the kids LOVE it! It is a time of celebration, of commemorating miracles and a time to remember that the Lord will deliver those who put their trust in Him.

Hanukkah starts at night in complete darkness. All the lights are turned off and we then light our “servant” candle (or shammash in Hebrew). The “servant candle” is set apart from the other candles and its “mission” is to bring light to the other eight candles. During Hanukkah, the servant lights an additional candle each day until the eighth day when full light returns! Joseph Smith was born on the 8th day of Hanukkah when the “servant” candle was symbolically bringing light back to the world! If you read Joseph Smith’s patriarchal blessings, I believe you will recognize that he is the Latter-day “servant” foretold through Isaiah, Ezekiel, 3rd Nephi, etc.

Each night, as we lit a new candle, we sang hymns, watched uplifting movies or talked as a family. We had discussions about Joseph Smith’s mission and how he was born during the darkest time of the year (December). Joseph Smith was born the day after the “Winter Solstice”, the shortest and darkest day of the year. When his birth date dawned (December 23), it marked the beginning of brighter days! A day of new beginnings!

Each year we have a different theme. This year we had friends come over to visit, we had special desserts and one night we retold the story of the Maccabees! What I love about this holiday is having a time to remember that even in our darkest days, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

One thought to “Celebrating Joseph Smith’s Birthday with Hanukkah”

  • Sharon

    What a beautiful way to celebrate your Jewish heritage and the Restoration! My children and I love singing along to the Maccabeats – a Jewish accapella group. We have learned much about Jewish traditions through their songs. Particularly in regards to the festival of Hannukah and the lighting of the Hannukiah, their fried foods and their re-telling of the revolt led by the sons/family of the Judaeus Maccabaeus. But most importantly about “neis” as defined by them, the “miracle” of the lights. We do not have Jewish heritage but I have been feeling impressed particularly within the last 3 years, to participate in Jewish holy days and festivals with my children. I love the insight you bring of connecting these things to the new and everlasting covenant of the Restoration. I see all these things as connected to one big whole and my profound love for Christ has deepened immeasurably in the process.

    Thank you for sharing this family tradition Hannah. I would love to somehow incorporate something like this into my own family tradition.


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