We lived across the street from Macy’s… or so it seemed.
I grew up in a part of Toronto, where very few Jews lived. It started off more Jewish, but many moved to “Bathurst Manor,” while my parents, who were a little “out of the box,” stayed put and bought a cottage on a lake in Northern Ontario instead, where we would go every weekend.
I didn’t think too much about being the minority in our neighborhood and had lots of friends, 99% non-Jewish. But every year when Xmas came around, it hit me. Not only were the houses festooned with lights, across the street lived the Jamesons, and boy did they love Xmas!
On their roof was Santa, the sleigh, all of the reindeer, including Rudolph with his blinking red nose. Their front door was wrapped like a big gift, all tied up with a bow. Lights twinkled everywhere, music played, and on their front lawn was a little manger with the whole mishpocha inside.
And there we were with our little menorah in the window.
I recently read an article written by a Jewish woman who grew up in a similar neighborhood. She said she felt bad, with all the flash and tinsel around her, and her family with their simple candles. She shared that one night there was a storm and a blackout, every home went dark except for hers, illuminated by the candlelight. She also discovered that there were one or two homes in the neighborhood also displaying the glow of their menorahs — she didn’t even know that they were Jews!
Spreading light in the darkness is not just for blackouts; it is the role that we must play every day. The Jewish people were given a mission at Mt. Sinai — to be an Ohr L’Goyim, a Light Unto the Nations. In a world of confusion, strife, moral depravity, and pain, we must rise as a beacon for all.
So let’s light it up — not just our menorahs, but also our homes, the Jewish people, and the world.