My family, like many American Jewish families, has gotten less and less religious over the generations. When my great grandparents came from Eastern Europe they only spoke Yiddish, yet I barely know more Yiddish than an average New Yorker.  My sister and I have grown up in a household that 51 out of 52 weeks is barely recognizable as Jewish. And yet, through a combination of grandparent insistence and guilt, every year we celebrate Chanukah. This specific menorah was a gift from my grandmother to me after I became a Bar Mitzvah, and ever since I have used it to light the candles for eight days, saying the prayers to celebrate the festival of lights. Lighting candles is such an uncommon thing in our modern society that doing feels almost medieval–and yet every time I lift Shamash and utter “Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam,” I somehow feel transported hundreds of years back. It originally was given to my grandmother by her father when they first got to America- a replacement for the menorah they weren’t able to bring back from the region which today is Ukraine, and then given to my father when he became a bar mitzvah. My hope is one day I’ll be able to pass it on to my son when he becomes a Jewish man.


Place(s): Ukraine
Year: 1940

– Isaac Rose-Berman

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more