“Shabbat candles” — the words struck my mind.
I was just walking in the mall with my father when a man approached us. He asked if we were Jewish. My father said that we have Jewish relatives on his mother’s side. The man responded by saying, “That means you’re Jewish.” He asked my father to put on tefillin and then he gave me a Shabbat candle kit. He explained that when Jewish girls turn three they start to light Shabbat candles, which helps bring more light into this world.
Believe it or not, my sister Anna was turning three the following Saturday. What a coincidence that this man stopped us this week, so we could know about Shabbat candles before my sister’s third birthday. Right away I felt a special connection to the Jewish people, to Shabbat, and to the Shabbat candles.

We went home and told my mother about our wonderful experience and the time we spent meeting this Jewish man in the middle of the mall. As we were telling our story, my mother started turning white. She told us the last time she lit Shabbat candles was when she was only 10 years old. She said she only lit because of her Jewish grandmother. Once her grandmother died, she stopped practicing her Jewish religion.
Right away my mother took the candle kit out of my hand. She set it up in a prominent spot for lighting and read the instructions, to remind herself how to light Shabbat candles with the blessing.
We found the contact number of the man, who turned out to be a rabbi, and my mother called him to thank him. She told him how thankful she was that he had found her family’s Jewish spark. The rabbi invited us for a Shabbat meal and we went. We had a wonderful time. We have been going to classes and becoming more involved with the Jewish community. Amazing how one mall trip can change your whole life!
From that Shabbat, I have never missed lighting Shabbat candles. I even got my own silver candlestick as a present from my parents. Anna got a rose gold candle stick for her birthday too.
I can’t wait a whole week till Friday. I get my special time with G-d and I feel like my great-grandmother is by my side watching me with a huge smile. I can’t wait till I get to meet her. We have become more religious and are inspiring others to light Shabbat candles as well.
We are very happy with our new lifestyle.
I can’t wait till next week, Friday in Jerusalem with my Jewish family.

I feel like my great-grandmother is by my side watching me with a huge smile

Riva Rochel Chazanow, Age 12
Yeshiva Shaarei Tzion
New Jersey, USA