The Ninth Candle

The Ninth Candle - a caregiver Chanukah - by Kim Campbell for

As our family prepares for the upcoming holidays – inviting friends over for dinner and celebrations and the retelling of the story of Chanukah – I was surprised to find some interesting similarities between the miracle of the oil and the plight of caregivers. For those of you who need a quick refresher, here’s the gist of it:

In the year 165 B.C., against all odds, a small band of Jewish fighters battled and conquered one of the mightiest armies in the world in order to protect their religious freedom and beliefs. According to legend, when the time came for them to rededicate the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory, the Jews could only find enough oil to keep the Eternal Flame of the temple’s menorah burning for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, giving them enough time to obtain and purify more oil in order to keep the flame from ever going out.

Ever since, Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah by lighting candles on a nine branch menorah, one candle for each day that the oil lasted, with the ninth candle, the shamash (servant candle) sitting higher than the rest, used to light the others. This ninth candle is the one that really hit home for me.

Being a servant can be a high and difficult calling – and caregivers are among the most dedicated servants in the world. Somehow we manage to give our light to others each day, even while fighting against formidable foes such as depression, stress, fatigue, illness, financial ruin and feelings of guilt.

There were many times in the last few years where I wondered if I’d have enough oil to get me through to the next day. I was on the verge of burning out more times than I can count! Miraculously, God always gave me exactly what I needed to get through each day of my journey and never allowed my flame to be extinguished. When my own strength failed me, God was there to sustain me and supply my needs. He refreshed my spirit and gave me the strength, the will and the wisdom to take care of Glen, our children and myself!

The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication.” What an appropriate time to reflect on this passing year and the dedication that 15 million caregivers in the United States selflessly show to their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and friends who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Because the good work that caregivers do often goes unnoticed, CareLiving wants to lift them up this Chanukah season, shine a light, and commend all of you for your selfless service!

You are the light of the world… Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Jesus
Matthew 5:14-16

Happy Chanukah!

– Kim Campbell and all of us at


  1. Marita Robbins says:

    What a great article! Sadly, I am also in a “care giver” role with my mother, albeit likely more indirectly than what you experienced with your husband.

    But I love the hope of Hannukah and love the additional insight, which —with your permission—I will share with my family. Hannukah sameach to you!

    Marita Robbins

  2. Just what I needed. Thank you, Kim, for sharing!

  3. A wonderful connection- thank you Kim. Having experienced caregiving with my beloved Dwight, and now having close friends caregiving husbands or parents with Alzheimer’s, your words reach deep into the heart. Will share the article for sure.
    Keep up your good and blessed work!

  4. Debra Elfassy says:

    Shalom Kim…thank you for your comforting, uplifting article. My husband has had Alzheimers for eight years and, as his sole caregiver, your words really touched me. Each time I light our hanukkiah I shall bask in the ever-new light and strength of the ninth candle, our Shamash.

  5. Thank you Kim for this inspiring post! Such a beautiful presentation of the light and love of the season, mixed with comfort the caregiver’s heart!

  6. Linda Williams says:

    My husband has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s recently. Alzheimer’s of Orange County California is incredible at providing support and activities for us as we start this journey. I will looking forward to following this website for support as well. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I am interested in hearing what symptoms or behaviors that people notice in their loved ones (other than the usual ones on med websites) that leads them to believe their loved one has alzheimers and not just older age forgetfulness. Does a person’s speech sound more slurred at times?

    How rapidly does the person decline? Does or can medication really help stave this off? How did your loved one react to their diagnosis? Maybe it’s better not to know and for them not to know because if there is no cure, what’s the point?

    I think I may see something happening…changes… in someone I know and I feel paralyzed with looming fear and panic if it is so.
    If anyone has any thing to share, please do.
    Thank you

  8. Kim Campbell says:

    All of these questions and concerns are very valid and each with their own very long discussions and answers. We’re not in the position to diagnose or advise on any medical treatments, but one thing we CAN tell you is that every single case of Alzheimer’s or dementia is unique, and if you’re feeling at all concerned, you should speak to a medical professional as soon as possible. We wish you the best.

  9. I found this website while pondering some of the same questions HK asked. I have had some Alzheimer training as a pastor but every case is unique. I am only replying because I noticed how quickly Kim replied. Thank you for your attentiveness to those who post here. I liked your understanding of Chanukah. I had studied that in Macabees but didn’t know about the 9 candle. Thanks for all you do

  10. Carolyn Florence says:

    Just read your article in People magazine. We just found out that my husband of 64 yrs. is in early stages. I pray daily for patience. With God’s help I know we can make it. Thank you for your words.

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