Friday is the epitome of the mundane;
All of the physicality compressed into a day.
But no matter how many renegades reside in the mortality of this 24-hour day,
I know what is to come once the night falls
Because Friday is also a threshold;
Friday is a passage, a bridge.
No matter how stormy or dry the Friday afternoon may be,
The sun always seems to set in a golden pool basked in this holy light
And when the sunset comes,
I am so content with bidding farewell to the day.

The evening brings upon us a twilight of candles and matches,
Of oil-filled candelabras.
I light a candle,
Transporting me back in time to Aleppo,
Where my great-grandmother stood
In a war-torn town;
She still covered her eyes,
Saving her deepest prayers for the Creator Who is always listening.
As I wave my arms in a circular motion,
I am transported to Sunik,
Where my great-grandmother stood
In front of a candlestick belonging to her great-grandmother,
And although there were blonde-haired and blue-eyed men outside her front stoop in uniforms
Rounding up her people,
She stood her ground and closed her eyes,
Reciting a blessing that awakens the compassion in our Heavenly Master’s heart.
I await the moment that I can connect flame to wax, connecting me to my ancestors.

I celebrate in the joy of another week completed;
Mothers and angels join me in this holy igniting,
The souls destined to live behind the stones rise to hear my prayers,
The spirits outside my window peer into this palace,
These holy beings all witnessing my connection to this wax wonder;
And I think about its existence before I light it,
Before I assign it a name, before I make its creation complete.
This candle is merely a white soldier living in a box of other troops,
Waiting for the moment where it can be called upon and therefore worth its formation.
And even if the room is dim,
With shades drawn, the moment match births flame,
And wick and fire meet,
The room is enlightened with the glow of the A-lmighty Father sitting in his cloud throne and galaxy Kingdom.

This evening is a drink of cool water to the parched throat,
This day is sustenance to the starving,
This night is new repaired vision to the blind.
And I think to myself,
The least I could do is share this gift with another,
In the hopes they’ll recognize its value.
The least I could do is somehow repay the King of the universe for presenting me with such a rarity.
And when my hands cover my face,
When my palms hide the tears that stick to my skin,
I feel complete.

My voice is raised in harmony
For the land I call my home,
For the dove who wishes to return to her nest peacefully,
Carrying an olive branch which she can extend.
I close my eyes and envision a wall whose cracks hold my nation’s sorrow within,
I envision a golden city
And hope for its glory to be restored.
The kingdom of Zion has fallen,
And I hope to help lay down the bricks that rebuild it.
My heart holds the Walls and rivers of this nation’s land,
And it breaks every time she suffers.

I serve You and Your Torah in the hopes that my beautiful country shall be restored in a holy rejuvenation,
So the least I can do is keep the soldiers in your army in mind.
The least I can do is think of the people giving up their lives so that mine can continue on.
The least I can do is give back.
The least I can do is encourage another to do the same, to take part in sparking another flame
The least I can do is give back the light He has given to me.

—Chani Smoller, Age 16
Hebrew Academy of Huntington Beach
California, USA