Like many a Jewish Diaspora kid I grew up with a white and blue JNF pushka in my room. I even received a certificate for ostensibly funding my very own tree. Seemed like a laudable cause.
Later I realized the fuller implications of JNF trees, that they sometimes cover up sites that used to be Palestinian villages, that the JNF plants trees on the West Bank, and that in general the JNF’s ideology wasn’t really in line with my own.
So, while I want to celebrate Hanukkah, I don’t want to donate to the JNF in the process. How then do you find Hanukkah candles that have nothing to do with the JNF, if that’s what you’re looking for?
- At the far end of the spectrum there is Narrow Bridges Candles that is a “Jewish ritual candle-making project in full support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction of Israel.”
Too much for you? Maybe you’re not fully on board with BDS but also don’t want to support the JNF? Fret not. There are candles for you too.
- The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers apolitically handmade beeswax Hanukkah candles.
- US-based Beeswax Candleworks make Hanukkah candles too. (Incidentally they also make a beeswax “kneeling Madonna” candle.)
- If you want your Hanukkah candle proceeds to go toward something other than pure lucre, Good Lights donate 1 percent of theirs to For the Planet and also supports the Orangutan Trust. Plus they’re committed to sustainable palm oil. Whole Foods carries them.
- Manischewitz keeps all the money they make from their Hannukah candles. But they appear to be made in China even as they are marketed as made in the USA, according to angry customer Amazon reviews. Fun fact: Manishewitz is owned by Bain Capital.
- Ner Mitzvah has a more heimish vibe and is based in New Square, NY, where it makes olive-oil as well as beeswax candles. If you’re curious about Hassidic candle-making stateside, check out this video about the Ner Mitzvah company.
- If you have an abundance of time to kill between now and Sunday evening and want to DIY, there’s always the Martha Stewart option.
- For the niche – but quite possibly Jewschool-reading audience – who wants candles made by Hassidim, in Israel, but doesn’t want to support the JNF. Safed candles are made in Tzfat, but, as far as I can see, the proceeds don’t go to the JNF.
For those of you who would specifically like your Hanukkah candle money to go to the JNF, you’re in luck. This seems to be the default option for Judaica outlets on and offline.