I'll never forget the look on my sister's face when I came to pick her up from the train station a few weeks ago. I thought I should warn her that I was almost there so I called as I rounded the corner. She asked what car I was driving and I assured her she would have no problem finding me. And then I heard the gasp. She found me.

You see, for the past few years during Chanukah we have strapped a large menorah to the top of our van. Depending on where you live, you may have seen this. But for the general public of Philadelphia, this still definitely draws attention. Granted, we are far from the only car to sport one; there are probably a few dozen even in our immediate area, and we always honk and wave to each other when we pass. But regardless, a large menorah on the top of a van wishing you a Happy Chanukah is still quite the attention grabber.

Then I heard the gasp. She found me We first rented one (oh yes, you can rent them) to partake in the large menorah parade in which hundreds of cars join each year and drive through the streets of downtown Philadelphia. This is an amazing experience all in itself with those on the sidewalks waving and shouting and my kids in the back screaming "Happy Chanukah" at the top of their lungs. It is a time of pride, unity, and empowerment.

But what's most powerful about my car menorah takes place when I drive alone. That is when I learn what it means to make a statement and the responsibility that comes with it.

I guess as a woman I fit into the crowd much more than my beard-toting, kippah-wearing husband. Wherever he goes it is pretty obvious that he is a Chassidic Jew (or Amish…a real possibility when you live right outside of Philadelphia). When I walk through the streets, on the other hand, unless someone knows what they are looking for, it is not certain that I could even be identified as a Jew. Especially now in the winter, a skirt, boots and turtleneck certainly don't raise any suspicions. And even in the summer, I think that when spotted fully dressed in the midst of a heat wave, the assumption is just that I am bizarre or fearful of the sun.

But when you drive with a menorah on the top of your car, you are very in-your-face-Jewish. And the message you are telling the world is that you are proud to be just that! And I admit that I wasn't really ready for the attention that came with my menorah. I soon learned that every single time I got into my van, no matter where I was going or what I was doing, I was going to be watched.

I learn what it means to make a statementAt every traffic light people stare. As cars pass, they wave or honk. I could see in my rear view mirror those in the cars behind me trying to figure out who I was. People wanted to know, what kind of person drives around like this? Who is this proud Jew? What does one look like?

One of the main reasons we light the menorah is to publicize the miracle that took place when just that little bit of oil lasted for eight days. Another aspect is to add more light to this world. Driving around with my car menorah managed to accomplish both. I saw the smiles, I watched the kids point out the menorah to their parents. I noticed the waves. And I felt good knowing that just through running my errands I could bring about Jewish pride and unity to my fellow Chanukah celebrators.

But it did more than that. It reminded me that I always need to be conscious of who I am and what I represent. Even if the rest of the year people don't even know I am Jewish as I go about my day to day life.

I kid you not, there were days that as I was about to run out to drop the kids off to school, I ran back in to make sure I looked decent. It was not so much that I cared if I had on makeup or not, but I realized that if I was going to be making a statement, I certainly didn't need the world knowing that I jumped out of bed thirty seconds earlier!

When the light was about to turn yellow, rather than stepping on the gas I slowed down. I mean, how embarrassing to fly through a borderline red light with a menorah on the top of the car! I let cars pass, I was more patient, I smiled at passing drivers. After all, it was not about me, it was about the message I was carrying.

She had no choice but to respond in kind As for my sister, she was really embarrassed getting into my van. We debated the whole ride home whether people were laughing with us or at us. A menorah on the van was unbelievably out of her comfort zone and not anything she had any interest in doing. But as we drove around those few days, and the cars next to us smiled and waved, she, too, had no choice but to respond in kind.

After all, when you realize that people are watching, you definitely want to be on your best behavior. And once you are aware that even the most mundane errand contains possibilities for a message and connection, that five minute drive suddenly is no longer meaningless or boring! And that is the truth year round. Menorah or not, we are always being watched, certainly from Above and from all around even more than we think. So it is up to us what message we bring when people look our way.