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Let There Be Light

Channukah 2006: I get that sweaty palms, racing heart, tense shoulders, “I’ll do anything if it means getting out of this situation” feeling. The candles appear to be ten feet tall, wax monsters that can reduce my house to flames at any minute; that is, if I manage to light the match. I strike it once with no luck, and my father suggests I apply more pressure. The second strike yields no results, so my sister tells me to do it faster. On the third attempt, my mother jumps a foot in the air and screams that I’m going to burn my finger. I succumb to my nerves and hand the matches over to my father.

Channukah 2010: I’ve had four years to work up to this. I’m ready. I am going to create fire just like the fire benders on Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I step up to the Menorah, strike the match, and accept my defeat on the third attempt. Maybe next year.

Halloween 2011: Today is a big day. It’s my favorite holiday, my first date, and my Lord Voldemort jack o’ lantern is the best I have ever carved. I am so caught up in the excitement that when my dad hands me the match box and sends me outside with my date that a year’s worth of worry builds up during the thirty second walk to the front door.

I realize that jack o’lantern lighting is on a whole different level than Menorah lighting. Not only do I have to strike the match, but I have to lean over and stick my arm inside a rotting pumpkin with a rapidly burning piece of wood in my hand. I avoid the embarrassment all together and hand the matches to my date. Maybe next year.

Shabbat March 23, 2012: The day that changes my life forever. Today happens to be the day all five teenage girls attend Shabbat services, which is rare because we are all busy with our social lives; that is, if sitting in my bed and catching up with my fictional friends counts as a social life. As a result, the Rabbi asks all five of us to bless the Shabbat candles. And light them.

I walk up to the bimah and I smile at the congregation with a strange sense of confidence. I open my prayer book and prepare to say the blessing with the other girls when the Rabbi asks who wants to light the candles. She asks the most confident girl first, then the one closest to her, then her daughter who all nervously giggle and look at the ground to avoid the difficult matches under the pressure of the whole congregation staring at them. The Rabbi is about to give up and light them herself when I step forward and say, “I can light them”. I don’t even think about the fact that I have never successfully lighted a match, and I strike the box with force and determination. It doesn’t light, so I turn the box over and try the other side. I am so determined to light this match that I picture creating the fire in my mind, and it works. I light the match! And then I use the match to light each of the Shabbat candles while my friends say the blessing behind me. I walk back down, high-five my dad, and feel like I can achieve anything.




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