#524 (s5768-13 / 24 Kislev 5768)

Worth Even More (a story for Chanukah)

His unit was assigned to secure the town and search for any hidden Nazis.

Worth Even More

Private W. was with the United States Army as it marched through Europe at the end of World War II. His unit was assigned to a village with the orders to secure the town and search for any hidden Nazis. While there, they were to help the villagers in any way they could.

The private was on patrol one night when he saw a young boy running through a field just outside the village. "Halt or I'll shoot," he shouted. The boy ducked behind a tree. The private waited patiently.

Eventually the boy came out. Figuring that the soldier was no longer nearby, the boy went to a spot near a large tree and started to dig. Private W. waited patiently again, this time until the boy had finished digging and was on the move once more. He stepped out and shouted, "Halt or I'll shoot!" The boy ran but Private W. decided not to shoot. Instead, he began pursuing the furtive figure. He caught up with the boy and tackled him to the ground.

In the scuffle that ensued, the boy dropped an ornate Chanuka menora that he had been holding tightly against his chest. Private W. picked up the menora. The boy tried to grab it back shouting, "Give it to me. It's mine!"

Private W. looked deeply into the frightened youth's eyes and assured him that he was among friends. "I myself am Jewish," he told the youngster.

The boy, who had survived the concentration camp, was mistrustful of all men in uniforms. He had been forced to watch the shooting of his father. He had no idea what had become of his mother.

In the weeks that followed, Private W. took an interest in the young boy's welfare. The boy, David, became closer and closer with the American soldier. Private W.'s heart went out to the boy. He offered to bring David with him to the United States, to New York City where he lived. David accepted and Private W. went through all the necessary paperwork to officially adopt David.

Private W., now Mr. W. and back in the private sector, was active in the New York Jewish community. An acquaintance of his, a curator of the Jewish Museum in New York City, saw the menora. He told David it was very valuable, a relic of European Jewry, and should be shared with the entire Jewish Community. He offered David $50,000 for the menora.
David refused the generous offer, saying the menora had been in his family for over 200 years and that no amount of money would ever make him part with it.

When Chanuka came, David and Mr. W. lit the menora in the window of their home in New York City. David went to his room to study and Mr. W. stayed in the room with the menora.

The quiet stillness of the house was interrupted by a knock on the door. Mr. W. went to answer the door. A woman speaking with a strong German accent stood before him. She seemed flustered and excused herself for intruding. She had been walking down the street when she looked up and saw the menora in the window.

"We once had a menora just like that in our family," she said in broken English. She had never seen any other like it. Could she come and take a closer look?

Mr. W. invited her in to look at the menora. He said that the menora belonged to his son who could perhaps tell her more about it. Mr. W. called David from his room to tell the woman more about the menora's history.

In the mystic glow of the ancient Chanuka menora, David was reunited with his mother.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#746).]

Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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