Jewish Continuity

Tonight I rectified history, lived a dream and experienced a miracle.

Two years ago I lit the menorah and felt lonely. I prayed for a child to hold, a child who would gaze at the dancing flames and listen to her father recite the blessings. A few weeks later I learned that I was expecting twins. By Chanukah, I thought, I would have not one, but two babies to witness the lighting of the candles, two Jewish children to represent the miracle of Chanukah, in which the Jews triumphed over persecution. It is especially poignant here, in Germany.

My husband and I moved to Germany to educate the thousands of Russian immigrants who grew up ignorant of their history and heritage. And here, in the ground floor window on a German street, we lit a menorah to prove that Hitler has not won. As I lit, I hoped that people would pass and see us, see the flames and realize that the Jews are an eternal people, the people of G-d. As the night wore on and the flame grew smaller, I added oil to the cups, to lengthen their life and their message.

But I wanted more. I wanted the passers-by to see not only a menorah, not only evidence of Jewish presence; I wanted them to see a Jewish child in the arms of its parents, I wanted them to see evidence of Jewish continuity.

By next Chanukah, I thought, I would have this triumph. But G-d decided it wasn’t time. I lost my unborn babies, lost them in a foreign city, away from home, where I was one of many, where no one understood what they meant to me, what they meant to the Jewish people.

At the next Chanukah, our hands were empty, but our hopes were great — I was expecting a child. And my darling was born — exactly a year to the day since my first babies left me. My first babies slipped through my fingers, through the aching hole in my heart. But a year later I held my daughter in my arms, and my heart was full.

Tonight, I held her as her father lit the menorah in the German night. She watched intently as he lit the wicks, and she listened quietly as he said the three blessings and I slowly pronounced, “Amen.”

And then, when my husband completed the last brachah, thanking G-d for giving us life and bringing us to the joy of this day, my little girl, not yet one year old, stared into the flame and said clearly, “Amen.”

Whether or not there was someone passing underneath our window to bear witness, the Jewish people have triumphed.

Ruchama W.