That Day in the Synagogue:
Hanukkah Photo Session

by Diana Rosen

It was a terrifying diagnosis:
you cannot bear children. Still,
my cousin persisted. For years.

I tape holiday cards on the front
door, drape blue and white crepe
paper along the fireplace, and in

the center of the mantel, add the
photo of her, my cousin, smiling,
ecstatic, sitting under the banner:

“A Great Miracle Happened Here.”
That miracle celebrated his bar
mitzvah this summer, lights the

hanukkiah tonight, sings the prayer
in a voice as sweet as he was, that day
in the synagogue for the photo session

cradled in his mother’s arms.


NOTE: A hanukkiah is a menorah candelabra with 8 candles and a 9th candle in the center, used to light all the others. During Hanukkah, a spinning top (a dreidel) is used to play a game of chance for gold foil-covered chocolate coins. The dreidel top is decorated with four different Hebrew letters, one for each of the four words of the phrase, “A great miracle happened here” which sums up the story of the Maccabees beating the odds by defeating the Syrian-Greek army during the second century BC and the subsequent rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.


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