December 2015

Simcha, Hebrew for “joy” or “gladness”, is a response to one’s internal climate (Reb. Tziporah Heller). Simcha involves creating and connecting (Reb. Heller).

During this past year, I learned I can feel simcha even while in aveilus (mourning*). Removed from the typical external simcha stimuli, I still feel creative and want to connect. I notice the soft pink, rose, orange, and yellow sunrises now more than ever. Sunsets have always attracted me. Now I watch the progression…the sensational light show. I see through the artificial city lights to Hashem’s (G-d’s) true lights. And I feel simcha and serene.

I stop and smell the sweet lavender bush on my street. I notice deep orange and black butterflies. I perceive and appreciate Hashem’s artwork on a more profound level than before aveilus.

Life flits by, like a butterfly…

Butterfly nearby (c) Sherri Leah Henkin


…I want to grasp the moment and really see it.






May these words elevate my father’s soul, Yoel Meir ben Simcha.

*A child observes certain stringencies during the first year after a parent’s passing. Sources: and



On the last night of Chanukah I lit all eight lights. Most of the flames burned a white-yellow light and stood tall. A couple of the flames were tiny blue-white/yellow and barely visible.

full menorah - (c) Sherri L Henkin

I figured those miniscule flames would burn the required time and snuff themselves out.

I figured wrong…look what I found 15 hours later!

one candle - (c) Sherri L Henkin

The size of the flame did not seem to correlate with the length of the time the wick burns. The size did not seem to mean that the flame would die out quickly.

What did I learn from this?

  • Burn – create – at a fixed pace.
  • Regardless of the size of my flame, face up.
  • Keep that upward movement steady.
  • Never give up hope!

And that’s the message of the last light – the last night of Chanukah…never give up hope!

Resolve to remember that there is never a reason to give up hope. Even after Chanukah has ended, its light can be found at all times and in all places, if we make the effort to find it.

36 Candles: Chassidic Tales for Chanukah, Libi Astaire, p. 20


The light show this week is spectacular!

What a treat to watch the sky as I prepare to light the menorah. A contrast in colors and size: the small bright yellow wicks against the huge purple-orange-blue sky.

dec 8 2015

And I am privileged to see this from my cozy porch.



Tonight I began the last 30 days of the year of mourning for my father. He gifted me a colorful, meaningful present! Thanks, Dad! Here’s lookin’ at ya!



May my father’s memory be for a blessing – Yoel Meir ben Simcha.


It’s winter. Days end early and it’s dark blue-black by 6 PM. It feels like 10 PM. And even if the moon glows in the sky, it’s not for very long. The darkness lasts for many hours.

The heavy blackness weighs on me. I can’t see the end. The darkest day of the year is the day before Chanukah.

In the middle of this bleak, somber time, we kindle a simple wick. A small yellow-blue flame rises. With the oil feeding the wick, the flame burns for several hours…dispelling the long night. The flame gives me hope. Possibilities will open, and I can begin to move forward.

The journey out of the darkness starts with this small steady light-Chanukah - blog


With gratitude to Reb. Tzipora Harris and her Clarity seminars for explaining these ideas.