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Home » Chanukah

A Modern Chanukah Story

Submitted by on December 25, 2005 – 2:36 amNo Comment | 3,322 views

During the course of this week Jews around the world celebrate the holiday of Chanukah. Chanukah means so many things to so many people.

To some it is a spiritual opportunity for reflection and introspection; to reflect upon the historical origin of the holiday and its relevance to modern day life. To others it is simply an opportunity to experience the sights sounds and smells of the Jewish culture thereby re-enforcing Jewish ethnicity.

Regardless of the personal approach to the meaning of Chanukah it is a time for family warmth and togetherness, for family gatherings and reunions, for family laughter and celebration.

For eight days, families gather around their menorah (candelabra), kindle the lights, hold hands, sing songs and dance to merry holiday tunes. They tell stories, play games and sample the unique tastes of ethnic Chanukah foods. Adults assemble to watch children perform in impromptu choirs and skits. Communities come together for Chanukah parties and events. Tall outdoor Menorahs are erected in public places and families congregate for communal candle lighting ceremonies.

Children and adults, toddlers and teenagers, men and women all enjoy Chanukah; all at the same time, all in their own way. They acquire memories; memories that will help forge their character. Memories that will develop their personal taste for Jewish culture and their nostalgia for Jewish tradition. Memories that will help shape them as human beings, as members of their families and as members of the Jewish community.

Chanukah is a time to create new friendships and acquaintances, to develop new bonds and family ties, to renew old connections that may have grown stagnant with the passage of many years.

As the following modern Chanukah story demonstrates:

Young Private Winneger was with the U.S. Army as it marched through Europe at the end of World War II. His unit was assigned to a European village with the orders to secure the town, search for any hiding Nazis and to help the villagers in any way they could. Winneger was on patrol one night when he saw a figure running through a field just outside the village. He shouted, “Halt or I’ll shoot.”

The figure ducked behind a tree. Winneger waited and eventually the figure came out and went to a spot near a large tree and started to dig. modern chanukah story - innerstreamWinneger waited until the figure had finished digging before he stepped out and again shouted, “Halt or I’ll shoot!” The figure ran and Winneger decided not to shoot but to try to catch the furtive figure. He shortly caught up with the figure and tackled it to the ground. To his surprise he found he had captured a young boy.

An ornate menorah had fallen from the boy’s hands in the scuffle. Winneger picked up the menorah. The boy tried to grab it back shouting, “Give it to me. It’s mine!” Winneger assured the boy that he was among friends. Furthermore, he himself was Jewish. The boy who had just survived several years of the Holocaust and had been in a concentration camp was mistrustful of all men in uniforms. He had been forced to watch the shooting of his father. He had no idea what had become of his mother. In the weeks that followed, Winneger took the young boy, whose name was David, under his wing.

As they became closer and closer, Winneger’s heart went out to the boy. He offered David the opportunity to come back to New York City with him. David accepted and Winneger went through all the necessary paperwork and officially adopted David. Winneger was active in the New York Jewish community. When Chanukah came, David and Winneger lit the menorah in the window of their home in New York City.

There was a knock on the door and Winneger went to answer. He found a woman with a strong German accent who said that she was walking down the street when she saw the menorah in the window. She said that she had once had one just like it in her family and had never seen any other like it. Could she come and take a closer look?

Winneger invited her in and said that the menorah belonged to his son who could perhaps tell her more about it. Winneger went upstairs and called David down to talk to the woman and that is how David was reunited with his mother.

As this story demonstrates Chanukah has a power that is beyond description and words. The warm Chanukah lights brought a family together, allowing them to share many years of laughter, life and happiness.

May we all be touched by the glow that emanates from the Chanukah lights

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