The Strength of a Child (Part 2)

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WWII German Air Raid of Britian
12 Dec 2007

Summary of part 1: The residents of England lived in constant fear of the German bombs during the Second World War. The children’s Chanukah party was interrupted by an air-raid alarm, and we all ran to the shelter. When we wanted to continue with the party, we found that we had forgotten the Menorah and the candles in the main synagogue. I decided to ignore the danger and to bring them to the shelter.

When I carefully opened the door to the outside, I looked out in the dark. At that moment all was quiet, and I took advantage of the lull to run across the grass between the two buildings. I went into the pitch black synagogue and groped my way to the podium, where the large Chanukah menorah stood, with the candles nearby. I took the menorah in one hand and the candles in the other and started to retrace my steps. But by the time I reached the door, the situation outside had changed completely. By now there were explosions, near and far, and the sky was red from flames that shot up from various buildings not far away.

“What should I do now?” I asked myself, my heart beating wildly. I was suddenly very afraid, and all of my earlier courage had disappeared. But I immediately remembered that it was Chanukah, and I asked myself what Yehuda the Macabbee would have done in such a case. Would anything have prevented him from performing a mitzva? After all, the only thing I wanted to do was bring the candles so that we would be able to observe a mitzva.

These thoughts cheered me up and gave me courage. I decided to run across the area and to reach my friends in the air-raid shelter. So I ran with the speed of an arrow. When I had almost reached the old building, I saw an incendiary bomb hit the flat roof of the synagogue. I knew that within a few seconds this bomb might light up a great flame which might engulf the entire building!

“Almighty G-d, what should I do now?” I thought in despair, completely panicked and terrified by the sight I had just seen. I knew what had to be done in such a case and how to handle such an incendiary bomb. I had heard detailed instructions on the radio time and again, and when the days were more peaceful my friends and I used to play at extinguishing fires, as if we were grown up civil defense volunteers.

There was little time to lose, since every moment was critical and could mean disaster for me. I put the menorah and the candles down on the grass and ran to the synagogue. A ladder was standing near a wall, as was common at the time, ready for just such an emergency. I quickly climbed onto the roof and found the bomb, which had started to catch fire. In a corner, there was a pail full of water with a foot-operated pump connected to a rubber hose. I put the hose into the pail and very carefully pumped water around and onto the bomb, until I saw that the flame had indeed gone out.

Only then did I allow myself to return to the shelter. Again I ran all the way, a flash of light showing me the menorah and the candles. I grabbed them, and with a huge leap I reached the door of the old Beit Midrash. When I opened the door, I almost fell into the outstretched arms of my teacher, who was standing there with all my friends…

Source: “Holidays of Yisrael”. Email reactions and Suggestions for Stories to Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute ( Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Goldberg. To subscribe to receive the complete version of Shabbat B’Shabbato please write to

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.