Rubashkins Light Up Sioux Falls


chanukah-sioux-fallsBy Aloma Graham

The Rubashkin family has brought many firsts to the Jews of Sioux Falls: The first minyan, farbrengan, kriah, and the first Shabbaton (this was a first for my family as well; I would never have thought it would be here).

Jewish men put tefilin on for the first time – my own 26 year-old son was one of them. Another was a young man who Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin put tefillin on for the first time in his life, at his mother’s bedside as she was dying in a hospice.

This was the greatest thing that he could do for his mother’s soul at this point.

Now, at this special time, Hashem has given us yet another first – our first public menorah lighting held at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

For the past three years, we have had a Chanukah party for the Israeli people that come to work in the kiosks at our mall.

This year we wanted to make it some thing even more special by making it in honor of Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin who is being held unjustly in the Linn County Correctional Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Tuesday before Chanukah, 13 Kislev, I became ill and had to “take it easy.” This was a blow, as in the past, I have done all the cooking myself; it was looking as if there would not be a party this year.

The very next day, Wednesday, Leah Rubashkin called me.

She asked how the party planning was coming along, I of course told her that it was likely there would not be a party this year. Leah, without hesitation, took up the fray, and she and her wonderful family began to plan to make the party happen.

Thursday, when Leah called, she inquired about a place to do a menorah lighting. This was not something we had ever been apart of before and wanted so much to see.

We began making calls, but as the weekend was approaching, time was short for putting that kind of thing together. As Shabbos approached, we had no place to do the lighting.

One of the calls we made was to the Washington Pavilion, a center for the arts. It was Sunday morning when we got a call back from the lady in charge, whom we had never met before.

She said she was Jewish and very was excited about making this happen at the Pavilion. She wanted to set it up for 4:30 Sunday afternoon because that was the time that the symphony performance would be letting out and we would have a large crowd.

We called Leah. They were preparing the food for the party for that night and had a 5-hour trip ahead of them. She was not sure they could make it, but if not, she would send someone a head; it was going to happen!

The public menorah lighting was remarkable; truly one of the most joyous things I have ever experienced.

I watched the faces of those who looked on, as they changed from curiosity, to wonder, to being caught up in the dedication and joy of a people transcending themselves to be closer to Hashem.

The next day we got a call form the lady at the pavilion. She was ecstatic about the feedback she was getting from those who had seen the lighting.

She wanted to know how she could obtain an electric menorah to keep up for the remaining 8 days. She then asked if we could plan to come again next year.

The Chanukah party that evening was a wonder in itself. A conference room graciously donated by a local hospital transformed into a party room with table clothes of blue, blue and white streamers, confetti and Chanukah decorations.

The food that was so graciously made and supplied by the Rubashkin family was remarkable. The evening was spent in the glow of the menorah lights, the Chanukah story – the first time I had ever heard it told by a rabbi, Getzel Rubashkin – and music. It was truly a wonder!

Please continue to daven for Reb Shalom Mordechai ben Rivkah.

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