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The Little Boy Who Discovered His Holiday Light

By Mina Gordon


Menorahs seem to be popping up everywhere this time of year. It’s hard to miss them.

In shopping malls and parks, in front of municipal buildings and community centers, at busy intersections and near highways, they stand proudly. Their fiery arms lifted towards the heavens, these menorahs shine brightly against the night sky.

Joshie was only 10 years old, and although his father was a rabbi, he did not attend the private Orthodox school that his siblings went to. Joshie was born with certain challenges, and he needed a school with highly trained specialty staff.

One frosty morning in December, the children from Joshie’s class were led to a bus and dropped off with their teachers in the busy downtown area of their city. The children looked in wonder at the crowds of shoppers passing by, the long lines of honking cars impatiently waiting for pedestrians to finish crossing and the tall buildings blocking the winter sun. After making sure that every child was accounted for, the teachers led their group down the street. Their goal was to show the children the holiday season’s displays and the intricately decorated shop windows.

As most of the children oohed and aahed, Joshie remained silent. He stood on the periphery, somehow knowing instinctively that he would not find anything familiar in those tinsel-framed windows.

The little group continued on their way, most of the children chattering excitedly. A teacher noticed that Joshie was uncharacteristically quiet and fell in step with him.

“Joshie, don’t you like seeing the holiday decorations?”

“Holiday?” He repeated, looking confused. After a moment, he shook his head. “No, not looking like my holiday.”

The teacher had no answer to give and walked silently alongside Joshie, his heart going out to this little boy.

The group turned a corner and found themselves at the edge of a large plaza. All eyes were drawn to the enormous fir tree decorated with hundreds of yards of shiny tinsel—all eyes, that is, except one pair. Little Joshie was looking a bit further to the right, at the giant menorah. A smile lit up his face as he pointed to the familiar object and cried out: “THAT’S MINE!”

When Joshie’s father heard what happened on the excursion, he found a deep message in his son’s words. He said: “Today, there are many Jews who are ‘religiously challenged’ and don’t know much about their heritage, but when they see the public menorah, something within lights up with Jewish pride, and they feel it, knowing, ‘That’s Mine.’ ”

This true story is based on an incident mentioned by Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik in an article published in the Chicago Jewish Image.

Reprinted with permission from

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