Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Harris Tobias

A Chanukah Story

It was the coldest Chanukah anyone could remember. Icicles hung from the eaves and a cold wind blew the snow into drifts on the lawn. It was the last night of Chanukah and the fully lit menorah would do what it could to compete with the multi-colored twinkling displays of Christmas lights on all the other houses in Stony Glen Estates.. As the subdivision’s only Jewish family, little Sarah Greenstein took special pride showing the menorah in the living-room window. The menorah was a heavy silver antique passed down, like her Jewishness, from her Mother. Unfortunately, it required a rather large odd sized candle which the Greenstiens had to special order many weeks in advance from a Judiaca store in Brooklyn. The candles were kept in the drawer with the tablecloths until they were needed.
This is how Chanukah had been for all of Sarah’s nine years. But this year something had gone wrong with the candle order. The count was wrong and the box from Brooklyn was short the nine candles needed for the last night. Instead of containing 44 candles, which covered all the nights of Chanukah, the candle box was completely empty after the seventh night. Not only were there no special candles left, there were no candles in the house at all and the storm outside made driving to the store impossible.
The mood inside the Greenstein’s house was as dark as the menorah. All around them the neighbor’s houses twinkled and flashed with Christmas color. Some houses had illuminated Santas and sleighs on their roof or lawn, some had reindeer and wise men, and one had a huge inflated snowman. Everywhere there were lights; cascades of lights hung off the roofs and engulfed every shrub and tree. The menorah’s slow build up to its fully lit splendor was all but lost in the Christmas glare.
Alas, it appeared that there was nothing to be done to salvage the situation. The festival of lights was headed for a cold and dark conclusion. Sarah sat in her room disappointed and stared out her window. The neighbor’s colored light show reflected off the icicles hanging from the eaves giving them the appearance of colored rods. Maybe it was that colored glow that gave Sarah the idea that saved this story and her final night. Running down the steps she ran to her father and told him her idea.
“Put icicles in the menorah”? her incredulous father asked. “I don’t think that’s a very good idea. They’ll only melt and make a mess”. But Sarah begged and pleaded until her father put on his winter coat and went to fetch the ladder from the garage. In a few minutes he returned with a pail containing nine icicles just about the size of the menorah’s candles. Sarah set them in their sockets ready for lighting. It looked a little strange but there was no denying it had a certain charm about it. The family gathered around the curious candelabra, joined hands and said the Chanukah prayer. Father even went as far as to light a match and touch it to the shamus, the center candle that lights the others.
No one was more surprised than the Greenstein’s when the icy shamus held the flame just like a real candle. In a few moments all the ice candles were lit and
the menorah burned in full glory. Not only did the menorah burn all night long but, if that weren’t miracle enough, the storm knocked out all the power in Stony Glen Estates plunging it into darkness. The Greenstein menorah was the only light anyone could see for miles around.

© Harris Tobias 2011

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