It was the first night of Chanukah ... and a menorah was nowhere to be found. Until a miracle found me ...
Posted in , Dec 22, 2014
It was the first night of Chanukah, and all throughout the world as darkness fell, Jewish families were lighting the candles on the menorah, remembering the miracle witnessed by their ancestors. But as I hurried out of the Guideposts office after work, it didn’t seem like I’d be able to join the celebration. At least not the way I was supposed to.
“Still no luck,” I said to my fiancée on the phone. “I don’t know where we’ll find one last minute.”
All day I’d been looking for a menorah. My fiancée and I had received a beautiful one as an engagement gift—but we’d forgotten it at her parents’ home in New Jersey. New York has the largest population of Jews in America, but on the isle of Manhattan, on the day before Chanukah would begin, it was impossible to find a place remotely near my office where I could purchase one. I’d searched before work, on my lunch break. “We had a few but they sold out last night,” one shopkeeper told me. I even Googled “Menorahs in NYC” and walked to the address of the first store that popped up. It was now a 24-hour gym. No menorahs, just muscleheads.
“Don’t worry,” my fiancée said, though she sounded disappointed. “We can light some tea candles. It’ll sort of be the same thing.”
Dejected, I walked towards the subway. Well, God, I tried to celebrate the right way, I thought.
About a block away, a golden glimmer caught my eye. Soft, flickering light coming from the windows of the first floor of a large, tall building. I’d passed the building hundreds of times throughout my years at Guideposts, and I knew it housed a Jewish women’s college. Only now, though, did I pay it any attention.
Through the windows I could see tables and tables filled with lit menorahs, their warm glow emanating out into the street. I paused for a second to look.
“Happy Chanukah,” a young girl said to me.
“Thank you. Happy Chanukah to you too.”
I was about to walk on, but something stopped me. “You don’t know where I could get a menorah at this late hour, do you?” I asked.
The girl's eyes lit up almost as bright as the Chanukah candles. “We have a lot, but they’re all lit now. Let me check and see.” She ran inside. A minute later, she came out again. “We don’t have any more. But someone told me they sell them at the pharmacy on the corner.”
I thanked her and ran to the corner. Inside, I saw a display of Christmas wreaths, candy canes and Santa stockings. No menorahs.
Then the girl walked in. She approached one of the stock boys. “Do you carry menorahs for Chanukah?” she asked.
“The Jewish Christmas tree thing? Aisle ten,” the stock boy answered.
The girl turned and saw me. “I was looking for you. Thought you still might need some help.”
Help she did. On the bottom shelf in the back of the store, I found one, solitary menorah. A tin box with candle holders. The very last one left:
My fiancée and I were able to celebrate Chanukah the way we were supposed to after all. A little miracle, to help us celebrate a big one.
Did you receive any unexpected help this holiday season? Keep an eye out this Christmas for little miracles that may have made your celebration, like mine, a brighter one. Send your stories to [email protected].
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and may everyone have a blessed New Year!