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The Purpose Of The Light This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I am a soldier in the Persian Gulf region. As our country's leaders prepare for war, I sit and wonder about why I am here. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. My family is probably at this moment lighting candles and singing songs. I should be there, I think to myself. When I enrolled in the army, I was upset and wanted a new life. I did not imagine I would ever have to go to battle or fight in any wars, but here I am dreaming of the life I left behind.

My mind travels back seven years. It is still the first night of Chanukah, a Saturday night. I stand before my friends and family reading a speech I spent months preparing. I talk about my obligations in becoming a woman on my Bat Mitzvah. I tell of the women's parts in the victory of the Jews, and their obligations in following the Mitzvot (laws). I speak of lights, but as I recite from the page for the thousandth time, my mind is filled with the latest Billy Joel song from the radio and some guy in my class....

"Amy?" Someone calls, pulling me away from my memories. "I wasn't sure if you were awake." My bunkmate says. "I brought your mail."

I take my letters from her. One is from my parents. I am sure it is a Chanukah card. The other is from Gershon, my boyfriend from home. I tear open the letter.

"I can't wait to see you," he says, and I can see him in his skullcap and required sideburns. "I love girls in uniform," he writes. I smile.

I look up at my little menorah, and watch the flames die. I, being the only observant Jew in my battalion, have been asked over and over again why I have lit the candles. I have told each one the story of the victory of the Jews, and the miracle of the lights.

I find a piece of paper and a pencil and begin to write. My Dearest Gershon, do you remember learning when you were little the purpose of the menorah? It is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah. Well here, in the Arabian desert thousands of miles from anywhere, the light has fulfilled its purpose... n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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