Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Family Menorah
Family Menorah

This is our family menorah. We lit it every Hanukkah when I was a child, when I returned home as a young adult and later for my children when we celebrated the holiday at my parents’ house. My mother, was a 1st generation American, my maternal grandparents immigrated with their families from Moldova and Poland at the turn of the 20th century, settling in Paterson during the heyday of Silk City. Every year, my mother would be sure to ask us the significance of the Hebrew words that appear in the flames of the menorah: Nes Gadol Haya Sham or a great miracle happened there, with the “there” being Israel. At the time, my mother had not yet been to Israel nor had she ever traveled outside of the United States. As a kid, she often had to function as a bridge to the new world for her parents and extended family while at the same time understanding the old world, a place she had also never been. That was part of how she became, and helped her family become, American. I think she also wanted my sister and I understand the privilege of living freely in our country was being able to openly identify with our religion and heritage, both of which spanned different countries and continents.  She bridged that for us well. Today, the menorah lives at my sister’s house because many years later, my mother brought me one from her first trip to Israel. It says Nes Gadol Haya Po or a great miracle happened here. 

Place(s): Israel, America, Poland, Moldova
Year: 1900

– Tamar Copeland

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant