I bring my hands toward me, the wrinkles she does see —
My darkened number on my arm for all eternity.
A soul so pure and precious, to evil she is not wise,
And the candles that shine before her create a hope that never dies.
My tears flow on her shoulder; as she becomes aware,
She notices my broken heart and questions me with care.
How can I answer such a child, to whom life is unknown,
Whose knowledge is so limited of the horrors that were shown?
I wipe away the tears as the memories blur my mind;
I know she wants an answer, and these are the words I find:
When I was young and just like you, they hated all the Jews;
They wanted to get rid of me, but truth I had to choose.
Every Friday when sunset came, I knew the time was near
For me to light the candles, amidst all of the fear.
We were beaten, starved and whipped, lives torn apart each day,
But those candlesticks remained with me; how I prayed that they would stay!
I never lost those candles — they were always by my side,
I was a Jewish girl, and my faith I’d never hide.
Although my family is now gone — they were killed before my eyes —
The candles are my source of light throughout my trying times.
My candles are my guidance; they are my streetlights in the dark;
As I make my way through saddest days, they add that extra spark.
They remind me of the evil men who wanted to take my life,
Yet I lit those Shabbos candles at those moments of great strife.
My dearest one, it may be hard, but to yourself you must be true —
You are a daughter of Hashem, a very special Jew.
— Golda Epstein, Age 16
Yeshiva Girls School of Pittsburgh