February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chanukah Candles, Flags and Lawn Signs

“But where will we put the couch? Will the headboard fit over there in that corner?” After showing an untold number of homes to potential buyers, it never fails to amaze me that a buyer’s perception of where one lives is not just determined by their singular vision of what “home” should look like, but is rather perceived through the lens of their furniture. If a treasured breakfront must be included in the move, then every dining room we walk into will be viewed with a bias towards where the breakfront will fit.

I have been privileged to be part of a unique community where many buyers have specific religious requirements which greatly impact their decision making process. Surely the most popular concern arises as the customer opens the sliding glass doors to the deck or patio. I wait with bated breath to hear the familiar question, “But where will we put the sukkah?” The imperative that the sukkah have clear skies above with no tree cover is legendary.

In deference to our treasured holiday of Chanukah I must share a conversation between my buyer and his mother in law who expressed concern with respect to another Jewish tradition. “But where will you light the Chanukah candles?” she asked. “The largest window is facing the side of the house and no one will see it.”

It is considered of paramount importance that the menorah be visible in order to best publicize the miracle of Chanukah. It hasn’t always been safe for Jews to “publicly” announce their religious observance. Over the course of thousands of years the placement for lighting candles, during certain periods, moved further and deeper into the house away from view. In the past few generations, however, this began to change. In Israel, the custom to light the menorah outside the entrance of one’s home has become prevalent.

As I drive through Teaneck today, the sight of Israeli flags and lawn signs pledging support for Israel has become more and more abundant. I suspect the ideal performance of the mitzvah to light at the entranceway will resonate more strongly this year.

Flash back, for a moment, to the mother in law who commented that the side window wouldn’t work for Chanukah lighting. The son in law suggested that he would begin lighting outside the front door and “voila” problem solved! The suggestion was met with deafening silence and after a moment they both moved on to the next room.

With our newfound courage inspiring us to more proudly display our allegiance to both Israel and Am Yisrael, the only thing standing between us putting our menorahs outdoors would be a different issue they don’t face in Israel, namely below freezing temperatures and a forecast of freezing rain.

Special thank you to my family who generously share their insights and often remind me of the poignant as well as crazy moments I have experienced over the years.


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V&N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck. Send your thoughts and comments to [email protected] or call 201 826 8809.

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