I was in my early 40’s when I asked my mother to find me a menorah. It made her “kvell,” when I asked. She was so happy that I think she dropped everything and ran to the store! She called the same day to share with me that she had found the perfect gift for me and had already put it in the mail.
When I opened the box I felt like the artist who made it had channeled my life.
I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was a Chagall-inspired menorah. On the front side, there was a violinist flying through the sky, a young girl floating in the clouds holding a bunch of wild flowers and in the center, a big red horse. On the back, an artist holds an easel in her hand, standing before the Eiffel Tower, an oversized yellow and red chicken by her side.
The horse is the most significant part of this story. How could she have known that they would return to my life 11 years later, to carry me through the grief of her loss?
I have never followed my families faith, I ran from it. There were very deep unconscious fears I carried in being “Jewish.” I had an early experience with anti-semitism that brought that unconscious knowing to the surface. I was only 13 and working in a bakery, when I came to understand…”It’s not safe.”
Each year at this time, I light my menorah in honor of my ancestors and especially my mother, as the “tradition,” was so important to her. I’ve found a song on YouTube-complete with phonics-that I can sing when I light the candles, which helps me to feel some connection to my relations and to the process. I didn’t have official candles last night, but I was compelled to follow through with the ritual, so I lit a tea light and placed it in front of the menorah.
In my life I have embraced many forms of spirituality and have woven them into my daily life. My altar is fluid and ever changing. To those of you who celebrate-and for those who may not-let their be light and peace for all around the globe