Holiday tale: This little light...of menorahs past and present

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Once upon a time, there was a moose menorah that stood about a foot high and was made of rusted iron. The moose held four candles on each antler with the ninth, or shahmash, placed in the middle.

The moose menorah was the centerpiece of my friend Ricki’s Hanukkah celebration in Ashfield, Mass. The table in her dining room held several tiers of menorahs. The tiers were staggered, with the large ones on the bottom and the small ones on top like a giant layer cake. Under the moose were about 50 other menorahs, the candelabra of this Jewish Festival of Lights. Some of these were family heirlooms, over 150 years old. Not a few had fled the Nazi Holocaust. Others were improvised. On the table were menorahs made from sweet potatoes, giant gum drops, votive candles and tongue depressors with brass fittings. Seventy people crowded around the table, sang the blessing over the candles and then proceeded to light the more than 400 tapers. We worked from top to bottom for obvious reasons. Once lit, the temperature in the room rose by about 20 degrees. Undeterred, we grabbed musical instruments and danced with joy around the table.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna make it shine.”

Brown lives in Taos.

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