Jerusalem, Israel, 1958-1959

When I was a child, many moons ago, I loved the holiday of Hannuka. It was festive, joyous and lasted forever. The memories of candle-lights flickering in the dark at my grandparents’ house, my Grandfather Eliyahu blessing over them, the aroma of my Savta Sarah’s mouth watering sofganiyot, jelly doughnuts, frying in deep oil, is still fresh in mind.

I went to a neighborhood kindergarten run by Yehudit, a young woman who embodied the emerging Israeli spirit. She introduced us to the magic of piano, dance and art. Biblical stories became a collection of electrifying tales. On Hannuka, we had a big party, danced with paper candle crowns singing: ‘We Came to Banish Darkness’. At the chorus, we would stump our feet and call: ‘Go Away, Darkness!’

I used to stump with such vigor, that my father would say “Do it again, Yakira’le”, I’d repeat, and we would laugh, and so it became our game. Years later, when I came to visit, he’d still say: “Do it again, Yakira’le”, and I did. I can still do it.
I say it every day, to chase away the darkness looming outside.

We came to banish darkness
We have light and fire.
each one is a little light,
And we are all a strong light.

Sora darkness, onward black!
Sura against the light!

באנו חושך לגרש
בידינו אור ואש
כל אחד הוא אור קטן
וכולנו אור איתן

סורה חושך, הלאה שחור
סורה מפני האור