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Stories, Poems and Humor
Left Book The Miracle of Bubbie's Menorah
by Hecht, Rabbi Eli
Right Book

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Group: Hanukkah
Language: English

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My sweet grandmother is a small woman, barely five feet tall. Her two feet tall candelabra was more than just a candle-holder. It was a family symbol, a magnet that brought us all together.

On Shabbat evenings Bubbie would don a special Shabbat kerchief. With great fanfare she would light each candle. When she finished lighting the last candle, she stood in front of the candelabra and closed her eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks. She prayed for her husband, her married children and her grandchildren. She spoke in Yiddish, "Her mein tier tata, hiet oif mein man, kinder un di eyniklach...." (Dearest Father in Heaven, watch and protect my husband, children and grandchildren. May it be your will that they grow up to be good people who are loyal to our religion. Please grant my dear husband a livelihood and patience. Watch over us all.)

We all stood by the Shabbat table in awe. Bubbie looked like a queen speaking to the King of Kings, the Almighty G-d. When she finished her prayer, we began our Shabbat.

As our family grew, Bubbie spent more time with her candles. By the time she reached her 94th birthday, she had many married grandchildren, who also had children of their own. There were five generations in Bubbie's family. When lighting the candles, Bubbie prayed for each family member.

Her candelabra was made of solid silver with a heavy silver base. All year-round it had three branches of two candlesticks. In the middle was a stem for another candle. The traditional custom for Shabbat eve is to light one candle each for the father, mother and children. As each child is born, another candle is added to the Shabbat lighting. Throughout the year Bubbie's candelabra was fitted for five candles.

During the week of Chanukah, she added another branch of two candlesticks each, making a total of nine candles. The candelabra was built in such a way that the candle holders could be removed and oil cups could be inserted for the special lighting on Chanukah. Our Shabbat candelabra became a Menorah.

During the week of Chanukah she gave her prized candelabra to my grandfather to light candles for the holiday. Chanukah was our happiest time. All the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren came to Bubbie and Zaydie to receive Chanukah gelt and join in the Menorah lighting.

Imagine the two-foot menorah with nine candles shining in all its glory. Zaydie stood proudly like a Kohain, the high priest in the temple, when he lit the menorah.

When Zaydie died, Bubbie would spend her winters in Miami Beach. She took her candelabra with her. Every Shabbats Bubbie would shine the silver candelabra and pray, "May my mazel (luck) always shine!"

All this came to an end when someone stole her menorah. Bubbie was livid. Her small body shook like a willow in the storm as she spoke about her most prized possession, her candelabra. How could anyone steal it? Her only concern was how she would light her candles.

She believed the menorah would return. "I have prayed that the menorah would protect us, and I'm sure that the menorah has done just that. Now I pray that the menorah protect itself and be returned to me."

With silent determination she prayed and prayed. The family did not know what to do. Unexpectedly a childhood friend from Austria, Bubbie's birthplace, once visited us and announced, "I never saw another menorah like yours until today. Surprisingly I saw a replica of your menorah, in the window of a gift store."

We were dumbfounded. Could it be that our guest had seen the stolen menorah? Bubbie jumped back and said, "Let's get my menorah back! It soon will be Chanukah and I need the menorah back."

Bubbie, my parents, Bubbie's girlfriend, and a policeman made their way to the gift shop. With a gleam in her eyes and a shout of joy Bubbie pointed to her menorah and said to it, "Yes, you have done well. You have protected us and now you have protected yourself. Come back home with me."

Before anyone could say anything, Bubbie grabbed the menorah off the shelf and held it close to her heart. Nobody could stop her. Neighbors, Jewish and non-Jewish, joined Bubbie in her triumphant walk home. The closer she neared home, more and more people joined her. Bubbie, dressed in the European manner, with her slight frame carrying a menorah almost as big as her, followed by a procession of excited family and friends, was a sight to see. It truly was a grand Chanukah parade.

The menorah was given a special cleaning, and that Chanukah was the brightest in Bubbie's home. Who says that miracles don't happen anymore?

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Additional Information

Rabbi Eli Hecht, vice president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America and past-president of the Rabbinical Council of California and is the director of Chabad of South Bay in Lomita.

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