Saturday, December 24, 2005

Chanukah with Zaidie....

I vividly remember Chanukah at my Grandfathers house. As a child I’d go there for a few nights a year as he lived close by.
It was a huge event. He would first sit down and prepare the Menorah fill the cups with golden olive oil. Then he’d pick out a piece of cotton from a box of cotton and roll it between his palms with a quiet tune on his lips lovingly forming the wicks. As we watched he’d place the thick cotton wicks in the oil.
The he’d put on his hat and gartel and go wash his hands.
By the time he was back the cotton wicks were saturated with oil. He then said the L’shem Yichud in a low voice and a lot of kavanah. He lit the shammes candle and with his eyes closed he’d make the brocho slowly and loudly with his heavy Polish accent..Burich Atu Hashem Eloikaini Meiloech Huoilum Asher Kidishuni B’mitzvoisov V’tzeevuni l’hadlik neir Chaniku....etc..
Then he’d slowly light each candle and sit down before the blazing Menora.
I’d peer into face ..his radiant face.. the orange flickering flames reflected in its lines.. I’d wonder and I still do.. what is he thinking?
These same twinkling blue eyes once celebrated Chanukah in a small Polish Village with his adorable lost siblings, the same eyes witnessed secret Chanukah lights in the freezing cold Bergen Belsen barracks. So many years, such a Jewish experience. He’d sing such beautiful haunting tunes as only that generation can.
After sitting for an hour or so, he'd reluctantly rise and walk away the same way one leaves a loved one to embark on a long journey.
He is my Zaidie and through him I can taste a bit of Chanukah.

The other day I walked into a store and for a moment was thinking of buying those snap-off ready made Chanukah glasses, instead I continued on and bought a box of cotton....