A Chanukah Miracle on the Upper East Side

On Tuesday night, a Chanukah miracle of immense impact occurred in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. A young woman in her early 30s from Kazakhstan lit the Menorah for the very first time in her life. This also marked the first time in 75 years that anyone in her family had celebrated Chanukah. The family, whose grandfather had fought in the Second World War as part of the Red Army, came back home in 1946. As a “gift” from Stalin, he was then sent to a labor camp in Siberia. All the family knew was that they were Jewish. But the last person who had followed any tradition was her great-grandmother, and she had lit candles at home on Chanukah. That was the extent of their Jewish identity and connection.

Fast forward all these years, and this young woman came to work at Park East three months ago. Not knowing her background, we had never discussed Jewish holidays or anything about religion or traditions. My assumption was that she was not Jewish and not connected in any way. Yet, yesterday evening, out of the blue, I got this text – with a picture of the Menorah, wishing me a happy Chanukah. At first glance, the picture just seemed like any another Menorah. But then, she added the following text: “This afternoon, I went to buy a Menorah. I had no candles, so I used birthday candles, and I lit them with my hands shaking. I don’t know the blessing, and I don’t know the meaning. But I know that my great-grandma is smiling in Heaven. Chanukah Sameach.”

My friends, this is the Chanukah miracle. I printed out this picture, and as we light candles tonight at home. I will show it to my children and tell them, “THIS is the Chanukah miracle. It is all about the Jewish spirit and survival, and that no matter how much pain and suffering our people go through, we are alive and our flame burns strong.”

Happy Chanukah.

A Chanukah Miracle (courtesy)
About the Author
Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky is a world-renowned Cantor, lecturer, teacher, mentor, and event producer. Affectionately known as “Cantor Benny,” he serves as Cantor at the historic Park East Synagogue, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Born in Liverpool, England, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Talmudic Studies in Manchester Yeshiva and an advanced degree in Music. He has performed for audiences of thousands at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the White House and the United Nations. As a lecturer of music and its application to prayer, Cantor Rogosnitzky routinely studies and practices both traditional and modern liturgy and music. In 2012, he worked with Sony Music on the production and marketing of the historic album and concert series, “Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul,” a collaboration between world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. At Park East Synagogue, where he has served as Cantor since 2009, Cantor Rogosnitzky also leads marketing and community engagement efforts for both the Synagogue and Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School, where he serves as Director. He serves on the board of several charitable organizations and is the co-founder of Cantors World and the founder of Frum Divorce. Cantor Rogosnitzky is married with four children and resides in New York. Follow Cantor Benny: http://www.cantorbenny.com/ https://www.facebook.com/CantorBennyRogosnitzky/ https://www.youtube.com/c/CantorBennyRogosnitzky https://twitter.com/CantorBenny https://www.linkedin.com/in/benny-rogosnitzky-06494110/ https://www.instagram.com/cantorbennyrogosnitzky/ http://cantorbennyblogs.com/
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