HANUKKAH: Looking for wicks in Phoenix – and inside ourselves

SUCCESS: Dr. Walter Poor, Hinda Grosss grandfather, poured olive oil for fuel into the metal cups of his hanukkiah.  It was the sixth night of Hanukkah – also his birthday.

BP Photo by Hinda Gross

SUCCESS: Dr. Walter Poor, Hinda Gross’s grandfather, poured olive oil for fuel into the metal cups of his hanukkiah. It was the sixth night of Hanukkah – also his birthday.

By Hinda Gross, Ninth Grade

I want to invite you to a day I spent with my grandfather about a month ago. He had recently informed me that he was in need of small plastic menorah inserts, prefilled cups of oil with wicks, for his hanukkiah, menorah. 

In past years the cups he had used didn’t fit the stands in his hanukkiah. This resulted in him having to stack the cups on top of the holders, instead of sliding them into where they were built to be held. This year, he wanted to purchase cups of oil that would get rid of this problem if they fit well enough. 

The purchase plan was to go to certain shops in town that in the past have sold Jewish holiday supplies. First we tried a small kosher marketplace in Phoenix a block away from where I live. They had two menorahs but not the pre-filled cups of oil. 

Next was a normal large supermarket in Scottsdale that had a Pesach section last year, so we thought they may have something for Hanukkah. They did, but not the correct-sized inserts for oil-burning hanukkiot.

FLAME: Hanukkah, which ends at dark on Monday, reminds us that we ourselves can ignite a spiritual flame. (BP Drawing by Sara Adatto)

The last store we went to was a Jewish bookstore in Scottsdale that usually sold other Jewish items. When we got to the store, it wasn’t even open. But the Chabad shopkeeper who worked there glanced at my zayde, smiled, and said he would open up for us.

We were standing in the store’s Hanukkah section when one of us spotted wicks – just wicks, without oil cups. Even these were not what we were looking for. To use the wicks, we would still need vessels to put them in, along with some spare kitchen olive oil to use as the wax.

After some thought and discussion, we decided it could work. We would be coming home with only a part of what we had originally set out for, but with a plan for a compromise. The wicks were all we would need. 

This holiday season, I am telling you that you are the vessel that will bring the flame. Finding your wick and your fire’s fuel is the hard part. 

It took Zayde and me trips to three different stores to find our wicks. Even once we had found the wicks we would use, we needed to creatively decide on a wax or oil that would work as fuel for the hanukkiah. 

The same is true for each of us.  If we don’t have the correct fuel and wick to start our personal fire, we may not even get a spark. If we aren’t training ourselves to be able to spot them — this motivation — we will fail to see the light that is potentially already in front of us.

Only when we take the time to search can we find the ideal substructure of strength that will burn for us. Once we have that base, we still need a match to light the fire, and a wick to hold it. But by then we will know how to search correctly for something to keep it aflame. 

I assure you, you have that menorah built inside.