was the year 1776. A lone Jewish soldier serves in the army
of General George
at the Battle of Valley forge. The soldier waits until his
comrades are asleep. Then, he removes from his pack a small
menorah and places it on the floor of the barracks. He
stares at the menorah. He remembers the first night of
Chanukah many years ago in his home in
Poland. The painful memory of
his father dancing under the heavy weight of a bear skin to
entertain the local Poritz. The Poritz and his cronies
guffawed at the sight of the poor Jew forced to dance in
front of these evil men. He reflects, “How they tormented
father. How they mocked him as he danced that awkward
dance”. He remembered his resolve that he will never dance
for the Poritz and decided to leave Poland and his family to
emigrate to America. It was Chanukah then also. His father
gave him this menorah and told him, “My son, when you light
this small menorah, its little flame should light the way
for you.” Trembling, he lit the small light of the first
night of Chanukah.
He gazed at
the gentle flame and tears streamed down his face as he
remembered how his family suffered under the cruel Polish
lords. He knew that many of the American soldiers wanted
George Washington to give up, so the difficult war would
end. Not he. He wanted America to become a free country
where Jews could live peacefully. Even though the winter was
fierce and the soldiers in Valley Forge did not have enough
food or clothing, he wanted to continue to fight.
he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Why are you crying
soldier? Are you cold?" It was General Washington. The
soldier sprang up. "I am praying that you should win the
these candles?" asked the General.
candles that all Jews light tonight in honor of a great
Washington's face lit up.
the children of prophets, and you say we will win." He shook
the soldier's hand and left.
The war was over with General Washington leading his army
to victory. General George Washington became America’s first
President and the soldier settled in New York.
year, on the first night of Chanukah, as the gentle
Chanukah lights flickered in his apartment window, there was
a knock on the door. Upon opening the door he beheld the
personage of his general, George Washington. President
Washington entered the small apartment on Broome Street and
told his soldier, “Behold the wonderful light. The light of
hope of the Jewish people.” Washington continued, “It was
your little light and your inspiring words that kindled a
flame in my heart that stirred me to win the war”.
George Washington hung a gold medal on the Jew’s chest. On
the medal was the image of a menorah with one light. On the
face was inscribed, "A token of appreciation for the light
of your candle. George Washington."