sk The Return Of The Junkyard Menorah
% ; K 7/
T-7 ) .1 N_
By JOEL L. GRISHAVER
My name is Judi and this story
is all about how my father and I had
a big fight one Chanukah. It
happened two years ago when I
was almost 8. It is the story of how I
learned that it is sometimes
important to be different. It is also
when Josh became my friend and
when we went hunting in the
I was the only Jewish kid in my
class at school. A year ago Robert
Gotlieb moved into our
neighborhood. That now makes two.
We go to a synagogue that is more
than 20 minutes away. In my
Hebrew school class everyone is
Every year I hate December.
Every year I have to stand up in
front of my whole class, sing "I
have a little dreidel," and explain
about the Maccabees. Everyone
looks at me like I'm weird. I hate
feeling different. For a long time I
didn't understand why we were the
only family who celebrated
Chanukah. I wanted to be just like
This is how this story
happened. I didn't want to go to
school and make a fool of myself
talking about Chanukah. The kids in
my class weren't interested. Two
weeks before winter vacation, I told
my father that I wouldn't take the
family chanukiah to school. He said,
"You should be proud to be a Jew."
That was easy for him to say. He
didn't have to stand in front of the
classroom and dodge the spitballs
that Brian Conroy shoots.
Then my father told me the
family menorah story again. He told
me how my Great-Great-
Grandmother Rosenberg brought
the family Chanukah menorah from
a place called Bavaria. I don't really
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1988
know where that is. The rest of the
story tells how my great-great-
grandmother then took it from
Baltimore to San Francisco in her
hatbox. It had to travel on boats,
trains, and even a covered wagon. It
was a good story, but I still didn't
want to stand up in front of my
After the big talk, I knew that
my father was going to make me
take the chanukiah to school and
tell everyone about the Maccabees,
anyway. I had a plan. I took the
Rosenberg menorah off the
bookcase and hid it in a cardboard
box. I didn't know that Mrs.
Kapuchki, our cleaning lady, was
going to think the box was garbage.
That night, my father came into
my room to tuck me in. I was still
mad at him, but he wanted to have
another long talk. He said, "Jews
are different from other people. We
don't do everything that everybody
else does. We have our own
important things. Our holiday is
Chanukah and Chanukah is a
holiday about being different. When
Antiochus wanted the Jews to do
everything that everyone else did
and not be different, the Maccabees
had to fight for their freedom.
Chanukah teaches us to remember
that Jews are different."
Then he picked me up and
hugged me. He said. "I want you to
be special and different from
everyone else. I love you. When you
get older and everyone else does
things like smoke or drink or take
drugs, I want you to know that you
can be different. When everyone
else you know forgets to be kind to
other people, I want you to be kind.
When everyone else is afraid to
stand up for what is right, I want
you to be the one who leads people
to do the right thing. Never forget,
you are different and special."
He kissed me, said "Good
night," and turned off the light. I
didn't really understand him, but I
loved him again.
The next day I changed my
mind. When I came home from
school, I went to get the chanukiah.
I wanted to polish it before I took it
to class. Then I saw that it was
gone. Mrs. Kapuchki said she had
put it outside. I ran out to the
hallway, but the garbage was gone.
The truck had taken it away.
That afternoon I had to go to
Hebrew school. It was the first night
of Chanukah. I didn't want to go. All
I could think about was that the
Chanukah menorah which had
ridden in the covered wagon was
now in the garbage.
When Mrs. Hessel took out the
chanukiah and had the class
practice the blessings, I ran out of
the class crying. Josh ran out after
me. He was the high school student
who helped our class as an aide.
He asked me what was wrong. I
told him everything.
One minute after the bell had
rung, Joshua and I were on our way
to the garbage dump. He rode me
on his handlebars and we got there
with at least an hour to look before
The garbage dump was really
yuuucky. There were old shoes filled
with rotten tomatoes. Soggy papers
were everywhere. I felt like I would
never get clean ever again in my
life; but we kept on looking.
We looked for an hour, and the
sun was setting. I had given up. I
said, "It's no use. Let's quit. I'm
already in trouble. I'm going to be
busted for losing the menorah, I
don't want to be docked for the rest