Tuesday, December 06, 2022

You Will Enlighten the Orphans' Darknes


Mrs. Berger’s class is learning all about Chanukah. The children listen enraptured by the timeless story, excitement brewing in their hearts. In just a few days, it’s going to be Chanukah! Chanukah means menorahs, donuts, gifts and family get-togethers…

Chana listens quietly along with her classmates, but only her heart weeps. She remembers last Chanukah when Mommy stood beside Tatty’s shiny silver menorah, recited the brachah, lit one candle…and burst into tears. They’d all wept along with her—from Chana to baby Nesanel. They’d cried and cried, gazed into the large portrait of a smiling Tatty hanging on the living room wall, and cried some more…

A full year has since passed, and another Chanukah is approaching. Time has a way of healing, and Chana knows that, this time, Mommy will light the menorah with a smile. Then they’ll all join hands and sing ‘Maoz Tzur’ like always, but the simchah of Chanukah, the light and joy of Chanukah…

It’s all gone.

Because Tatty is gone. Never again will he walk into the house with his broad smile, toss little Nesanel in the air or greet Chana with a special caress. Never again will he light the menorah for them, sing and dance with them.

When Chana thinks of Chanukah, her heart shrivel in pain. What do they need Chanukah for anyway? It’s not written in the Torah! They’d all be better off without it.

Without remembering how Mommy cried that night when she lit the first candle…

In Yudi’s class, everyone’s avidly preparing for the Great Chanukah Chidon. The whole cheider is going to be there in the large, glittering hall. The kids who’d made it to the final round of contestants will be seated on stage while an audience of proud fathers and grandfathers beams proudly back at them, each one secretly hoping that his son or grandson will be the one to get the right answer…

But Yudi’s Tatty won’t be there. Even if he wins the grand prize. Yudi’s Tatty passed away three months ago after a year and a half battling terrible illness. Instead of Tatty, both his Zaidys will come, and Yudi knows exactly what will happen. Zaidy Steinberg, Tatty’s father, will be invited to address the audience, because they always ask Zaidy Steinberg to speak. He’ll stand at the podium and speak passionately into the microphone, enthralling his audience. Then, suddenly, he’ll mention Tatty. His voice will crack just a bit, and he’ll pause to collect himself.

The hall will fall awkwardly silent, and all eyes will turn to Yudi who’ll want nothing more than for the earth to open wide and swallow him. He hates those pitiful gazes that make him feel so helpless. He even hates the self-pity that’s become such a part of him. He hates feeling so…so…fatherless… Why is everyone having such a great time dancing on their father’s shoulders, while he’s the only one dancing on Zaidy’s shoulders?… Oh, why do they need this stupid Chanukah Chidon anyway?!

Why do we need Chanukah?

It’s a question asked by so many lonely orphans, and one that Lemaan Yerushalayim can answer! Because on Chanukah, every orphaned boy or girl receives a special gift from the heart! The kind of gift that makes the heart leap for joy! The children who’ve received gifts in the past know to tell the newcomers that, this year at least, they can expect something special for Chanukah!

Lemaan Yerushalayim’s messenger—your messenger!—will knock on the door, grinning from ear to ear and ask, “Is there a Chana here?” “Is there a Yudi here?” “Where’s Nesanel and Eliyahu and Gila and Efrat?” Then he’ll open the giant suitcase at his feet and remove a gift in shiny wrapping tied with a colorful bow.

During that magical hour, the tears dry and the grief metamorphoses into happiness. The kids laugh and play while their faces shine and their hearts, usually shriveled in pain, expand in joy.

“Baruch Hashem, it’s Chanukah!” they’ll exclaim.

All because of you.

A week later, as Chanukah fades into a memory, and everyone returns to normal schedule, these orphaned boys and girls will remember Chanukah as a happy time and continue facing the challenges of daily life with smiles and strength!

It’s impossible to express how meaningful a special gift is to an orphaned child or how it can transform his or her Chanukah from sad and lonely into joyous and uplifting.

And again—all because of you!

Because you were there for them. Because you care.

You’re the ones standing behind the door bearing the gift. You’re the one choosing to give to one orphan or a family of orphans! You’re choosing how many children will celebrate Chanukah with simchah together with Lemaan Yerushalayim!

Some presents last a day, others a month or even a year. But some presents—like the gifts we deliver to our orphans—last a lifetime, because they assuage grief, build the orphans’ confidence, and imbue them with joy and strength to carry on!

And for you, these presents are eternal—awaiting you in olam haba!

Lemaan Yerushalayim. Because we want our orphans to celebrate Chanukah together with Klal Yisrael!

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