Chapter 12: Christmas, Chanukah and a Birthday
When the Christmas season arrived, the municipal workers would decorate Rynek Square with Christmas trees, with multi-colored oil lamps hanging from the branches that danced in the blowing wind. The children would run between the trees and throw snowballs at passersby.
Even among the Jewish residents there was a holiday atmosphere, because the Gregorian date of the birthday of Jesus coincided with the Jewish date of Chanukah, which commemorates the miracle that took place in the Holy Temple when the Greeks destroyed it. After the Jews had defeated the Greek army, the priests wanted to light the menorah once again. However, they found only enough oil to last for one day. A miracle occurred and the oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be obtained. The holiday of Chanukah commemorates that miracle and in Jewish homes the menorah is lit for eight days.
On that festive evening, Wolf, who was not at all religious decided to place a menorah in the window of his house. That afternoon he went to the market to walk around the shops.He visited the department store owned by the Zaidenbaums. Although they did not deal in religious articles, the grandfather, who was religious and sported a long white beard, was thrilled to see a Jewish man wanting to borrow a menorah. Wolf received a menorah along with eight candles. He decided to light all eight candles the first night and not the traditional way of adding a candle every night.
As he was leaving, he heard loud laughter coming from the Zaidenbaum sons when they were told of the nature of Wolf’s visit and his interesting request.
From Zaidenbaum department store, he turned into one of the narrow streets that connect Rynek along the southern side with the town of Maluszyn. At the corner of the street there was a lovely brick house in front of which there was a long room with a large display window facing the front. The building was occupied by the Lewita family, who for generations were known as master jewelers and watchmakers. Wolf knocked on the front door, which was always locked, and after a minute Leib Lewita opened the door.
“Advocat Wolf, what an honor. What brings you here?” he asked.
“Today is my daughter Lilly’s fourteenth birthday and I would very much like to buy her a piece of jewelry,” he answered.
The jeweler took a wooden box and spread out its contents in front of Wolf. There were all kinds of earrings; pearl earrings, gold earrings, silver earrings and gemstone-studded earrings as well asall kinds of necklaces.
Wolf stared in amazement at the assortment and became totally confused.
“Perhaps, Mr. Lewita, you can help me chose,” Wolf began.” I’m not good at choosing. Pick out a nice necklace with a stone for me; one that will match my daughter’s earnings.” He then began to describe the earrings that Lilly had received as a gift from her aunt.
Mr. Lewita took out a gold necklace with a shiny round pearl hanging from it.
“This will match,” he said. He then put the necklace into a small box, wrapped it and put a ribbon around it.
“I am sorry, but I must close the store now since the holiday is approaching and we still haven’t made “latkes” (potato pancakes) and donuts for the children who are coming to visit us this evening,” Lewita explained as he escorted Wolf to the door.
Wolf went out and headed for home. “Latkes, donuts, what else do I need? Is there anything I have forgotten?” he thought to himself.