Monday evening, I received a call from my eleven year old granddaughter, Rochel Leah, “Bubby, I want you to take me on Mivtzaim tomorrow”.
I started to present my list of excuses. Firstly, we’re living in the age of corona. I don’t want to go anywhere that is indoors, I don’t want to travel on the subway. Secondly, it is very cold and windy outdoors, it is most unlikely that we will meet any Jews walking around.
Tuesday afternoon, Menorahs and Chanukah brochures in hand, found us talking a brisk half hour walk to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I was very clear about it, if we met any Jewish people it would be a true Chanukah miracle.
As we were approaching the garden, I asked everyone we encountered if they celebrated Chanukah. We received many negative replies. Finally, we met a woman with a young child who replied, “Yes, we celebrate Chanukah”. They had a Menorah at home but they were happy to take the Chanukah booklet which would give them more insight into the holiday.
We walked through the entire garden without meeting anyone else Jewish. On our way out, I noticed a woman in the distance. We ran over and asked if she would like a Menorah. She was absolutely thrilled! Her daughter had taken her Menorah and she wished that she had one! Wow! Amazing! Our own Chanukah miracle.
On the street we met one more Jewish woman who had a Menorah at home, but who took our brochure.
I told Rochel Leah, “I came with you today because I want to be a role model for you. Mivtzaim should always be an important priority in your life. This is something the Rebbe taught us. This is something he wants us to do”.
Mission accomplished, the wind on our backs, we made our way home for our Menorah lighting.
By Rivie Feldman
I was reminiscing with some classmates about Chanukah, 1986. I was seventeen years old, growing up in Melbourne, Australia. The Rebbe sent an urgent message to his followers around the globe to do even more to spread the message of Chanukah. In particular, the Rebbe was urging us to place more Menorahs in public spaces where the message could be spread to many people.
We got the message in Australia on Thursday. There was a gathering at the home of one of the rabbis that very evening. This was already the seventh night of Chanukah. A lot of activities had been done including a sizeable number of public Menorahs were ondisplay around the city.
At the farbrengen gathering that night, the consensus was that as much as was done until now, we still had a way to go! The rabbi who was leading the discussion was straight forward and clear. He strongly urged us to do more telling us that we could do more! He said, “The Rebbe is pushing you to reach new heights; and when a Rebbe pushes, he empowers!”
The Chassidic gathering of song, study, and camaraderie, turned into a ‘war room’ directing the battle to spread more Chanukah light in an intensified manner. Locations where public Menorahs could be placed were drawn up.
The fact was, that we didn’t have any Menorahs left. We would have to build them. Overnight, we became Menorah builders. A basic sketch was drawn up to make Menorahs from equipment found in any plumbing store. By the time we finished planning, it was almost morning. I don’t recall if we slept that night. I do remember that we worked all Friday from early morning. We cut tubes, glued them, painted them gold, and wired them with electric bulbs. Finally, we had Menorahs, enough to make a splash in Melbourne. Now we needed to put them up.
I was part of a team dispatched to a synagogue that was right next to a bustling highway. We figured that the best place to position the Menorah was on the roof! Thus, all the cars driving on the highway would see the illuminated Menorah atop the synagogue building!
As the sun was slowly inching its way down the horizon on this long Friday in Melbourne (Chanukah comes in the summer), my friends and I were on roofs, in front of community centers, and traveling to remote locales, putting up Menorahs and spreading the light of Chanukah. All across Melbourne; all across the World!
The impact, in terms of Jewish inspiration from that marathon of light, was epic – far beyond anything we can comprehend. I don’t know how many Menorahs were kindled around the globe during those forty-eight hours of Chanukah, but later a book was published with hundreds of locations responding to the call of the Rebbe to increase the Light!
Thinking back, I realize that this was a pivotal moment for me personally. That Chanukah, MY MENORAH WAS KINDLED! Being a Shliach of the Rebbe today, I realize that this was the moment I became a Shliach! I had tasted the special flavor of spreading light to others.
The Rebbe later said how pleased he was at the results and conveyed his appreciation to all who toiled and exerted themselves. I felt these words were directed to me, as did each one who worked hard, wherever they were.
In teaching us to reach out to others and share the beauty, warmth, and inspiration of Judaism, the Rebbe gave us the greatest gift.
The spirit of Chanukah doesn’t end. The inspiration, the light, and the pursuit of goodness only becomes more and more intensified.
Chanukah reminds us that Light Will Win!
By Rabbi Kantor, Head Shliach of the Rebbe in Thailand.