Did you ever stop and wonder what happened in Jewish history the year of your birth? A couple months after I was born, the Lubavitcher Rebbe launched the candle lighting campaign. When a child is born, the soul enters the body. King Solomon said, “The soul of man is the candle of G-d.” The soul is likened to a flame that strives to make the world a brighter place.

At times, self doubt sets in and we may ask ourselves, “Can I really make the world a brighter place? Am I too small to make a big difference?”

Forty years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave us the answer when he launched the Candle Lighting Campaign encouraging young three years old girls to light Shabbat candles. His broader message was. “You are never too young or small to add light to the world and drive away the darkness”.

Forty years ago, Capital District Chabad was also getting started. I asked Rabbi Israel Rubin, Director of Capital Chabad to share with us his role in spreading the Rebbe’s message and carrying out the Candle Lighting Campaign.

Rabbi Rubin: “Thanks for returning me to the wonderful days of launching our Albany Shlichus in the fall of 1974, just as the Rebbe was revving up the international Shabbos Candle lighting campaign. I recall being in Frenkel’s Shul on President St, in Crown Heights, when this bright idea came to mind: Let’s use advertizing matchbooks to kindle an interest and light up the Rebbe’s campaign to spread the Light of Yiddishkeit!

Moving up to Albany, a local artist Sarah Levinson drew the now famous illustration of Mother and daughter lighting Shabbos Candles, and Mr. Leo Phaff of National Business Promotions arranged to print the first 10,000 Neshek matchbooks in a factory in Hudson! The Rebbe thanked me for this with the words: תשואות חן – an expression of thanks – before his signature in a letter. The idea caught like wildfire, and I soon printed several hundred thousand for Shluchim in various Chabad Houses around the world! Later, I also printed Chanukah matchbooks.

About ten years later, Rabbi Groner called and said that the Rebbe wanted some matchbooks to give out for his birthday on Yud Alef Nissan, but, unfortunately, I had no matchbooks left by then.

Thank you Mrs. Nechama Laber for continuing to shine forth the Rebbe’s beautiful light through your wonderful JGU programs, and may we all together shine Hashem’s light all around the world!”

King Solomon taught, “Torah is Light, A Mitzvah is a Candle”! Every Mitzvah that we do is a candle. Every time we study Torah, light Shabbat candles, help another, give charity, use our talents to honor Hashem; our spark – our soul is ignited and illuminates the darkness.

Neshek in Hebrew means weapon and is also the acronym for “Nerot Shabbat Kodesh” – The candles of the holy Shabbat. We fight the darkness by increasing our light. Women and girls, have the privilege to usher in the peace of Shabbat and will also usher in a world of peace with our light.

When the world around us is spiritually darker than ever before, it is time for us to reach deep inside to discover our inner light and let it shine to the whole world!!!

You were born with all the inner power to shine bright but YOU must be the one to strike the match to ignite your spark. Shine Your Light today!

Girls 8-18, Please enter the 1st Annual Shine Your Light Campaign 2015 to win an iPad Mini by May 10! Send in a photo or a short video of yourself using a skill or talent to add light to the world. Winner will be announced by our founder and sponsor Linda Schwartz at our Virtual Sivan Celebration on May 17th. A slideshow of photo entries will be featured.

Stay tuned next week to find out about my participation in the Rebbe’s Candle Lighting campaign when I was 3 years old.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Nechama Laber