06 December 2015

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Advent - Day 6

But thou, Bethlehem, . . . though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.                                               Micah 5:2

A New Light
By Joe Fitzgerald from Boston Herald

The Markovitz family was one of just a few Jewish families in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Pennsylvania where Christmas decorations lit up the street. In their home, however, an illuminated menorah in the window reminded everyone it was also Hanukkah.

Around five o'clock one morning, Judy Markovitz was awakened by the shattering of glass. "My husband and I ran downstairs and saw our window had been broken and the menorah was on the floor. The frame was shattered. They must have used a bat. Whoever did it had to squeeze behind bushes to reach it."

For the Markovitz family it was an assault compounded by personal history. "Both of my parents were in the camps at Auschwitz; my husband's mother was there also, " explained Judy, who came to America in 1974. "All of my mother's family died. There are things we don't talk about, but I know older people like her have a need to feel safe, so I didn't tell her much about this. And I tried to isolate my children from it too."

"We were home much of that day because my husband had to get the window replaced," she recalled. "Neighbors kept approaching us to say how sorry they were."

One of those neighbors, Lisa Keeling, now living in North Carolina, explained their thinking. "I know a menorah represents a miracle by our God before our faith was known as Christianity. I know of the king who told the Jews they couldn't practice their religion. When they reclaimed Jerusalem and saw the Temple had been desecrated, they wanted to reconsecrate it, but found only a tiny bit of oil, enough for a night. They decided to use it anyway and it burned eight nights.

"That was a miracle from the same God we worship, and why anyone would take a symbol of His love and use it for hatred, I don't understand."

These were things the Markovitzes did not understand as well. After workmen repaired their shattered window, the family went to Judy's brother's home, unaware that their neighbors were working determinedly to repair something else.

That evening when the Markovitzes came home from their visit and turned onto their street, they were met by an extraordinary sight: Nearly every home on the block was adorned by an illuminated menorah.

Vicky Markovitz, Judy's daughter, now 18, remembers those glowing windows as an affirmation of the compassion and community. "It was as if they said, 'If you break their windows, you will have to break ours.'" 

And the light spread.

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