Letter Box


Why no candles?

Editor of the Reformer:

An Open Letter to management at RiteAid, Walgreens, Shaws, and Ocean State Job Lot.

"I don’t blame you." "You’re not the first to complain about this." "You’re right. We should honor all holidays or none at all." "Please tell management."

Such were the responses I received from workers in your stores when I went in search of Chanukah candles -- and found none. They, at least, seem to understand the travesty of ignoring a significant Jewish holiday while aisle upon aisle drips with ornamentation for Christmas. Why doesn’t management get it?

I am not asking much. Just that I not be made to feel invisible, unworthy, small, less than.

I would like to feel that my religion, Judaism, is respected. It is, after all, not a cult to be ignored and disappeared; rather, it is a major world religion that predates Christianity by thousands of years.

Most of all I would like the children who visit my home on this holiday to take as much joy in potato latkes as they do in butter cookies shaped like trees and five-pointed stars. I’d like them to take pride in the Chanukah menorah, lit each night until eight candles shine on one of the happier stories in Jewish history. I’d like them to spin dreidles, eat on paper plates adorned with blue symbols of the season, and sing Chanukah songs -- without longing for their friends to know the story of this Festival of Light, as Jewish children know the story of The Little Lord Jesus by the time they are 5.

On the dreidle (symbolizing learning tablets that children hid as if a game when they were forbidden to attend school under King Antiochus) are inscribed four Hebrew letters that say "A Miracle Happened Here." Next year when I go in search of Chanukah candles, blue wrapping paper with the Star of David imprinted on it, a chatchke or two that represent the symbols of my heritage, I wonder if I will find that a miracle has happened here -- in your stores, wherever they might be. Because there are Jewish people living all over this country, even in New England villages, and they do not deserve to feel diminished in this season or any other -- especially not in this one.

Will I find a bit of blue amidst all that red and green? Will I feel legitimate and joyful? Will you give me my rightful place on your shelves? Will you allow Jewish children to feel pride in their own holiday stories?

Elayne Clift,

Saxtons River, Dec. 2

You’re welcome!

Editor of the Reformer:

The article about "Help your child succeed" in Nov. 13’s Reformer was excellent!

Thank you!

Hanna Steinmeyer,

Vernon, Nov. 29


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