It has occurred to me, in the days since writing about the word my mother's grandmother taught me, that the Hanukah menorah my father's father gave to my parents was another kind of gateway. It was a beautiful thing: instead of a narrow stem dividing into nine branches, the solid base rose up into the image of a metallic lion above whom rested symbols of each tribe of Israel, and further up over them, room for the candles we'd light each year and watch until they burned down to nothing but a final tiny ascending plume of smoke. All year long the menorah stood out in our living room, a reminder of those winter nights filled with more than the usual stories and meaning. All year long the menorah stood out in our living room, and helped the faith of my ancestors grow into my own developing sense of faithfulness. Yes, like the miraculous oil it commemorates, that menorah served well in a transitional period, keeping alive a spark that can become a bridge from future to past and past to future if we choose to walk it.
Photo by Vilo Elisabeth Westwood
(If you look very closely, you will notice that the photo-within-a-photo in the bottom right corner features Judith and the Menorah.)
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