web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Menorah That Lit Up My Life


Two years ago I was in Baltimore on business and happened to pass by the public menorah in front of Johns Hopkins University just as the first light was being lit.

My eyes welled with tears. Although I was raised a secular Jew, my family has always celebrated Chanukah. To be away from my family that first night of the holiday felt cold and lonely. Now, seeing the lights of the first night’s flames of that big menorah, my heart lit up also and I felt the warmth of my people all around me.

The next day I was walking by the waterfront and a young man in a black hat ran up to me and politely asked, “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

Somewhat surprised that anyone would care, I answered in the affirmative.

“Do you know that it’s the second night of Chanukah tonight?” he asked earnestly.

I nodded.

“Do you have a menorah?” he inquired, looking a bit anxious.

“No,” I replied.

“Do you want one?” he asked hopefully.

“Do you have one?” I asked, almost shouting with joy.

“Yes, and I’ll get you one!” he replied, almost as excited as I.

He ran off and returned moments later with an entire menorah kit in a box: little brass candleholder, box full of the right number of candles, and complete instructions. Also a DVD full of Chanukah stories, how-tos, even recipes. I politely declined the offer of a donut (fried foods are traditional on Chanukah, but I have to pace myself) and raced off to my hotel room to examine the contents of the box and watch the DVD.

Childhood memories of Chanukah lights, my father telling stories of the Maccabees the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil somehow lasted for eight days…it all came flooding back. I knew I had been given a gift that Chanukah in Baltimore: the gift of the return of Judaism to my life, and of my life to Judaism.

All this because of a menorah on the steps of a public institution. And all because I “happened” to be passing by that day and the flame of the menorah ignited the spark that had been sleeping in my Jewish heart for nearly 50 years.

When I returned to Seattle the following week, I called a rabbi for the first time in my life. I told him what the menorah in Baltimore had stirred in me. Over the next two years, with his wise and gentle guidance I found my way as a fully observant Jew. The spark that was rekindled by a public menorah is now a steady burning flame.

How grateful I am to live in a country that is founded on the right to worship as we choose, in the manner in which we choose. I thank our founding fathers who crafted the Constitution of the United States of America, which recognizes our freedom to express and practice our religion. And I thank those who have the courage, in these sometimes dark times, to defend those rights.

We never know how many hearts and lives are touched and, yes, even transformed, by the sight of the miraculous Chanukah lights, shining into the darkest reaches and reminding us of miracles long ago and not so long ago.

All those selfless souls whose courage and staunch commitment fuel the kindling of light the world over deserve our heartfelt gratitude. I know they have mine.

About the Author: Laura P. Schulman, MD, is a physician/musician living in Seattle. She recently spent two months learning Torah in Israel and is now is in the process of planning her aliya.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “The Menorah That Lit Up My Life”

  1. Leon Pettyjohn says:

    The Menorah is so pretty and full of meaning!

  2. Leon Pettyjohn says:

    The Menorah is so pretty and full of meaning!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-103114

People love their GPS; just type in the address and it tells you exactly how to get to where you want to go.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

In the same way as a married woman is precluded from marrying another man without a get, so too is this widow prohibited from marrying another man without chalitzah.

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Ban Of The Communities
‘Impaired Chalitzah’
(Yevamos 26b)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

“My mother raised us to independence, all of us,” Rivka says, which certainly plays itself out in the fact that all three children have taken a different path.

“ ‘We’re almost out of stamps,’ I said. ‘I’ll be happy to run over to the post office and pick up a supply.’ ”

Bris Bein Habesarim affirmed that Hashem gave the land to Avraham’s children. It does not specify for how long. It did not guarantee the Jewish people eternal ownership of the land

According to the Raavad if one who is uncircumcised breaks something he will be exempt from paying for it since he was chayav kares at the same time as he was obligated to repay for the item he broke.

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

How do the stories in Lech Lecha help us understand the central tension of Abraham’s life, legacy?

Abraham did not govern society but instead was the representative of God’s kingdom on earth.

Hagar grossly miscalculated her own merits and demonstrated a serious lack of gratitude for Sarai.

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

More Articles from Laura P. Schulman

Two years ago I was in Baltimore on business and happened to pass by the public menorah in front of Johns Hopkins University just as the first light was being lit.

Two years ago I was in Baltimore on business and happened to pass by the public menorah in front of Johns Hopkins University just as the first light was being lit. My eyes welled with tears. Although I was raised a secular Jew, my family has always celebrated Chanukah. To be away from my family […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/the-menorah-that-lit-up-my-life/2006/12/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: