Light: A spoken word reflection on early parenting as a work in progress

Avram Mlotek
January 16, 2013
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Drooping wax.
Dark colors.
We see our reflection in the glass window
overlooking the New York City avenue.
Trees waving and a black sky welcome
a lit match.
We hold the fire close and
recite the ancient words:
“To ignite the flame of Channukah.”
“Who makes miracles then and now.”
And we sing.
It is our first Channukah with Revaya.
Five months old and our daughter is a Channukah light that never goes out.
She looks at the flickering with intensity.
She stares at her mother as we harmonize.
I watch her watching.
You are our work-in-progress, little one, I almost whisper.
“Aren’t kids a million plus dollar investment?” a friend asks me half-jokingly.
“Monetarily and more.  Do the math,” he says.
Vos tut men nisht far libe?
What don’t you do for love?
For the future, for continuity, for dos goldene keyt, that golden chain that links
our drooping wax with
the generations’ past, mi dor l’dor.
It occurs to me.
Maybe this is how cultural transmission
Sitting with the people you love as the Channukah lights glow
and sing.
And you make mistakes and you try to
learn from them
over and over again.
Inspired by the eyes that look towards you for guidance as you inspire them,
so you hope.
The Ba’al shem tov teaches:
“You’re in the kodesh ha-kdoshim, the holy of holies, when you light Channukah candles.”
That’s where I am tonight.
That’s where we are.
Sitting on our living room couch,
the ancient lights lit,
singing Yiddish Channukah songs
and tickling Revaya’s gentle hands and feet.

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Avram Mlotek is a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and performs regularly with the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene Center for Performing Arts. His writings have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Forward and The Jewish Week. Avram was recently named in The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" as a leading innovator in Jewish life today. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and daughter.

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