©2009 David Talbot
I was having a chat with my sister-in-law, 6 months ago, about the holiday season. For us it was about Chanukah, the festival of lights. We spoke of the traditional holiday dishes like latkes (potato pancakes) and lighting the Chanukah Menorah, the traditional candelabra that Jews use to remember the miracle that occurred about 2,200 years ago. Susan told me that lighting the Chanukah Menorah, was what she missed most.
In December 2000, my brother was stricken with a terrible ailment that left him totally disabled and dependant on various medications. Because of his disability, the family cannot have an open flame in his room, so it’s Chanukah without the Menorah. If you are a Christian, think of Christmas trees with out any ornaments or lights. It just wouldn’t be the same. Thus Susan’s lament.
My solution: in addition to our collection of traditional menorahs, we have an Electric Menorah. It isn’t really a substitute for candles, but at least you will have a representation of the traditional menorah--we’ll send you ours. From this conversation a project was born, the Electric Menorah Project.
The goal of the Project is to give, free of any charge, an Electric Menorah to Jews in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Hospice facilities, or Disabled at home, where an open flame is not possible. Silvia and I took care of all expenses (not that many.) We asked our Rabbi to supervise us.
We composed an email list of about 500 old Army and National Guard buddies, relatives, friends, and friends of friends, and asked for their help. To date, we have received sufficient donated funds to provide about 20 Menorahs this Chanukah, to Arizona families. In addition, two electric Menorahs were sent to us for placement.
Here’s what I learned from the past six months. We learned that our friends were more generous that we had imagined---shame on us. We learned that very few folks resented the monthly solicitations and updates--only 2 people asked us to stop the contact. And, we learned that Christians do support “Jewish” causes as 90% of the donations came from our non-Jewish friends.
On our BLOG we encourage others to copy our project in their home towns. Two of our friends have inquired about starting projects, one in Florida, and one in Washington.
If you’d like more information about the Electric Menorah Project, you can find us at: http://electricmenorahproject.blogspot.com./ or email the project at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.