Ninth Candle: Helper Night

For the night after Chanukah, DC’s Cross River (Black-Jewish) Dialogue encourages focusing on “helpers” in honor of the ninth candle, used each of the eight nights to light the other candles.

Cross River 2020 Chanukah Dedications began to share some of the many projects of members of our Cross River Dialogue (CRD), encouraging others to join us in dedicating resources toward their work. But one CRD member suggested this dedication: “For the effect we have had on each other; coming to trust one another while learning about each other’s life experiences.”

“Shamash Night” (below) offers people in “helper” roles thanks and honor. The CRD version of Shamash Night, expanding on our member’s suggestion, encourages recognition of those who serve as thought partners, encourage us and inspire us, argue with us and challenge us, help us bring new ideas to fruition, and expand the boundaries of our vision.

CRD hopes others will explore and support the projects listed in each night’s dedication: Full list of Cross River 2020 Chanukah Dedications.

  • We hope others will explore and support projects of their own acquaintances.
  • We encourage support for individuals and groups doing so much amazing work, and
  • We encourage support for all the ideas that are brewing and struggling to emerge.

Shamash/Ninth Night

Each night a “helper” candle — shamash, in Hebrew — is used to light the others; it is kindled but not acknowledged. A new tradition, “Shamash Night,” gives us one more night to consider light and how it is spread. “Shamash Night” is inspired by Ninth Night, a picture book written by Erica Pearl (a member of DC’s Temple Micah); the author’s website offers more information on the book, an interview about the helper night tradition, and a “holiday event kit” for those who want to explore more. Pearl’s opinion piece suggests that this year, in particular, it is important to acknowledge “helpers” — from front-line medical personnel to on-line fitness instructors, trash collectors, postal workers, even journalists.

Image: shamash/helper candle highlighted between the eight Chanukah lighted candles