Judaism for Beginners: A Chanukah Miracle
There was a knock at the front door.
“Delivery!” called a voice from the other side. And after several years as an Oorah TorahMate, Jonathan had an inkling of what was coming: a holiday gift box.
Because Jonathan lived far from any established Jewish community, the gifts seemed like a cord that connected him to the vibrant heart of authentic Judaism. With Chanukah just around the corner, he was relatively sure that the man at the door would be handing him yet another “holiday in a box.”
Indeed, he was right. However, when he looked through all the goodies and supplies, he realized that he didn’t have much use for it. His children were grown and he already had the basics. Nevertheless, he didn’t want this little box of happiness to go to waste. He decided to post it on Craigslist and see if some other family could use its contents.
He photographed each item in the box and offered it free to anyone who wanted it. It only took 30 minutes for him to get a text message asking if the Chanukah box was still available. Jonathan told the “customer” to meet him the next day at the furniture store where he worked.
The Following Day
Jonathan noticed a smiling woman scanning the store. He approached her and introduced himself.
“This is going to be so perfect,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to do about Chanukah, and now here’s the answer.”
The woman explained that she was the step-mother of a 6-year-old boy. She was Jewish, and so was the boy’s mother. Only the father was a non-Jew.
“So there’s really very little in the way of Jewish tradition in our house, because my husband isn’t Jewish and I’m a beginner to Judaism myself. But my step-son knows he’s Jewish and he’s very interested in learning more about it. The thing I really love about this Chanukah box is the guide book, because I can use that to teach him what the holiday is all about. Truth is, I can use it to learn something myself! I’m so excited…we’ll light the candles and say the blessing and my step-son can have a real Chanukah!”
Jonathan saw the warmth with which the woman spoke about her step-son. Suddenly, he had an idea.
“We’re having a community Chanukah meal in our synagogue this Friday night,” he told her. “Why don’t you come? It will be a great experience for your little boy.”
The ending of the story was yet unknown when Jonathan emailed Oorah to thank everyone for the Chanukah box and the chance to reach out to a fellow Jew. For him, that opportunity was the real gift.
“None of this would have been possible without you sending me the gift box,” he wrote. “The fact that it ended up in the possession of a little boy who desires to learn about his Judaism is clearly no accident. Thanks to Hashem for connecting me with you!”