| Story Supplement |

Unwrap the Magic

Special Chanukah Story Supplement

Fire Fright

Malka Grunhaus

I placed the small, delicate glass cup inside its holder, and lay the long, white candle in front of the menorah. Carefully, so as not to spill a drop, I poured the olive oil into the tiny cup, and topped it off with a white wick. There. The menorah was ready for Tatty to light. Flanking his tall silver menorah were two smaller ones, mirroring the way Chaim and Yisrael would stand next to Tatty when they lit. I was excited. The first night of Chanukah was probably my favorite time.

“Everyone ready to light?” Tatty’s loud voice echoed through the house, to the sound of half a dozen feet scrambling towars the dining room. Tatty approached his menorah, and pulled out the matchbox to light his shamash. With a hiss, the match burst into flame.

It was the flame at the tip of the small match that did it. My excitement from earlier seemed crushed under the fear in my throat. I backed up to the doorway, trying to get as far away from the fire as possible. Mommy shot me a curious glance. Why are you backing away? her gaze seemed to ask. We’re all here together. Please join us. But I couldn’t. I needed to be far away from that flame, couldn’t she see?

She couldn’t see, but I could. There, in my mind’s eye. It was the same place, the same scene, one year earlier:

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 791)

One of a Kind

By Leeba Leichtman

“Akiva! You have a letter!”

Mail? For me?! I ran out of my room. (Ouch! I tripped over Efraim’s remote control car on the way—and went sprawling, of course. Lucky for Efraim that he wasn’t home then. Oh, man, that kid has got to start putting his things away.) Sliding down the banister, I coasted off neatly onto the hardwood front hall floor. Much better than my unflattering fall of thirty seconds ago.

“Here,” said Shana, who was sorting through the mail.

“Who’s it from?”

Shana laughed. “Well, look at it! That would be a good hint, wouldn’t it?”

I grinned. Shana’s like that. Of my five older sisters… Don’t tell this to Michal, Avigayil, Dassi, or Yehudis, but Shana’s my favorite. I mean, it helps that she drives me places and stuff, but she also just takes me seriously. Not just as a little kid — and not just as Efraim’s other half.

Oops, I left this teeny-weeny tidbit out: Efraim is my twin brother. But we’re soooo different. People think we look, “exactly alike!! Oh my, you darlings are just two peas in a pod, aren’t you?” No, random lady in the supermarket, we’re not. Actually, we’re fraternal, which means we aren’t identical and don’t share the same exact genes. We’re kind of like regular brothers, just born the same day. And yeah, we do look similar, but our whole family does. We all have that auburn-haired, green-eyed, freckled look (except Michal and Yehudis, who are blonde and blue-eyed like Abba). We all have similar features. Everyone says there’s a “Weinfeld family look” we all got stamped with. So why do they go crazy over me and Efraim? Mommy says it’s just because people get excited over twins and I should try to ignore it, but it’s hard. We haven’t dressed alike since we were six or seven, yet somehow, people still seem to call us, “the Weinfeld twins” and lump us together like we are… well, two peas in a pod. Which made getting my own letter so much more exciting.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 791)

Mystery in the Cave

Rochel Samet

“Free verse,” announced Mr. Farber, spreading his arms wide as if they were bird’s wings, “is just a fancy way of saying poetry that doesn’t rhyme.”

“What makes it a poem, then?” Sruly called out. A few boys snickered.

Mr. Farber waved his right hand up and down. “Raise your hand if you want to speak,” he said.

Sruly shrugged. “Ah, forget it. It’s not that important.”

Now the tittering was louder. Mr. Farber glared around the room and the noise stopped instantly. Dovi gave a last chuckle under his breath and rearranged his features to look serious. No point in giving ol’ Farber an excuse to assign extra homework.

“So now that we know what it means, we’re going to get creative!” Mr. Farber rubbed his hands together. “Take out a sheet of paper, don’t plan, just let your imagination get to work. I want at least six lines of free verse on the topic of... Chanukah!”

Mikey raised his hand. “But if it doesn’t have to rhyme, how do we know how long to make each line? Can it be a story? Approximately how many words? Can I do seven lines or does it have to be an even number?”

Mikey was the class question mark. Most of the boys laughed at him but were secretly grateful that he’d asked what they all wanted to know.

“No questions.” Mr. Farber said firmly, sitting down and taking out a pile of tests to grade. “This is a creative writing exercise, and there’s no right or wrong. Just do your best.”

Dovi rolled his eyes at the blank page. Now what?

Chanukah is a fun time, he wrote. Then he started a new line. One down, five to go.

It’s more fun than English class

It’s more fun than homework and tests

He scratched his chin and crossed off the words “and tests,” rewriting them as a separate line. Two more to go.

Mr. Farber suddenly loomed over his desk. “I’ll have that,” he said, grabbing the half-written free-verse non-rhyming poem. “Start over, and keep it focused on what you’re meant to be writing about. Chanukah.”

He strode over to the wastepaper basket. Dovi stuck out his tongue when the teacher’s back was turned.

“I thought there was no right or wrong,” he muttered.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 791)

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