The Menorah Man takes to the skies — again!
by Herb Brin (as printed in Heritage Jewish Press). All rights reserved.
The following is pure fantasy. It is written only for children and their dreams. Its author denies it was inspired by ho-ho-ho. The Menorah Man soared on wings of an eagle long before Rudolph's nose turned red. We hope it brings joy to your children as it does to ours.
There is a strange story that I must tell my children every Chanukah. It is a startling story for it challenges belief. And for Stanley, when he was four, there was a remarkable ending. I must tell it quickly for the wondrous days of the Chanukah are soon upon us.
Santa Claus is in the story too — and while he doesn't come to the homes of Jewish children because we have our own beautiful festival — somehow we were visited in friendship.
And this is good, for a child is a child, and the winter genie of childhood is beautiful.
Perhaps you have never heard of the Menorah Man. Surely you have never seen him come to your house on the Chanukah.
But we tell of him, in our home, as being the wizened little man in flowing robes of gold who lives in Negev Desert all alone.
In your imagination you will notice a strange, almost deliberate activity about the Menorah Man.
All year long he takes fire from the sun and presses it into tiny candles for the Chanukah menorah.
And at night while the world sleeps, when the sun is lost to man, the sleepless one makes toys for children by the light of the candles.
They are wonderful toys; melody bells, electric trains, beautiful dolls and mechanical clowns that make the funniest of faces.
Then, as the desert cools for the winter rains — as the Chanukah comes with the winter solstice — the Menorah Man piles candles and toys upon the backs of camels, and a caravan walks slowly toward the sea. Unseen by human eyes, of course.
At the water's edge waits a giant eagle, flapping huge wings in anticipation of flight.
Slowly, as the sun goes down upon a winter world waiting for its festivals, the eagle rises from the shore, soaring across the sky — seeking homes of Jewish children in far-off lands on Chanukah.
Standing bravely on the wings of the eagle is the Menorah Man, his eyes scanning horizons, dropping a tiny candle to this Jewish home and another to the one in the tenement block five flights up — where you'd think a candle wouldn't reach.
And with each candle goes a gift for a Jewish child.
Each night there are more candles, and each night, hidden in another corner of the home — there is another toy!
And on the eighth night the Menorah is a blaze of lights to honor the bravery of the Maccabee and our Temple that is forever: a blaze of lights — the desert sun reclaimed, shining warmly on the cold night of winter.
Children are joyful that the Menorah Man remembered — the tiny wizened man in flowing golden robes who soared across the sky on an eagle's wings of happiness.
There are other fancies to the tale.
And this, too, I must tell quickly — for people forget, and this must never happen to our story.
For when the Menorah candles were all aglow, shining across the darkness through a window in our mountain home, Stanley recited the blessings of the holiday.
Then he searched the house for the toy he knew the Menorah Man had left.
It wasn't inside the house.
Might it be on the terrace?
And he ran to the terrace door, and opened it.
He halted at the open doorway — his face aglow in wonderment.
We rushed to his side and we were startled, too.
For there, walking across the darkness of our lawn, reflecting light from the Menorah candles, was a reindeer. "He came to see what we were doing and if the Menorah Man came..."
The deer — we're certain his name was Donner — walked nobly away into the shadows, disappearing beyond the bend in the mountainside.
For a long time we stood silently watching the Menorah lights through the darkness, searching the skies, listening for flapping wings and sleigh bells in the night, straining to catch a final glimpse of a flying reindeer who called upon our home on Chanukah in kindness.
Our children picked up their toys from the terrace — brought by the faithful Menorah Man.
And in our home the genie of childhood was blessed.
For a child is a child.