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AWB Mission Alum Guila Rice: Chanukah Memories Then And Now

Guila Rice recently attended the A Wider Bridge/Olivia 2017 Mission Trip to Israel. As Chanukah approaches, she reflects on her Chanukah memories then and now.

In Jerusalem: Guila Rice and Olivia Founder Rachel Wahba

My Dad was a House Painter who came to Canada from the ashes of the Holocaust. He worked 6-7 days a week 10 hours a day sometimes more. We didn’t have much money growing up. We were far from poor but we just didn’t have so many luxuries.

My Dad worked hard and instilled in me the value of saving, working hard and honesty. If you wanted something you saved for it. He was in his mid-50s before he had his first credit card. I’m still like this today.

As kids, we used to wait for him impatiently to come home so we could light the Chanukah candles. We would spend precious minutes each day sorting out the different coloured candles with the goal of saving the best for the last day.

Each day we would hurry home from school because somewhere in our rooms my Mom had hidden a small little Chanukah gift for us. A new pair of socks, a new book to read & cherish, a small box of chocolates or maybe a little toy or even $2 so we could go out and get something at the candy store. Now when I light the candles I like to think of the miracle that happened not just 2200 years ago in Jerusalem but other miracles and freedoms we have.

  • On the first day I remember the miracle of the oil and the miracle that happened in Jerusalem
  • On the second day I remember my Parents and what they survived during the Holocaust
  • On the third day I’m grateful for my family and their love
  • On the fourth day I’m grateful for the freedom that I have in being Jewish and not having to hide it
  • On the fifth day I’m grateful for the amazing once in a life time opportunity that I got to join Olivia & AWB on a Israel mission this year
  • On the sixth day I’m grateful that my eyes are open to see and appreciate so many different people and know that at the end of the day we all want the same thing – to be loved and safe
  • On the seventh day I’m grateful for the new lives that we welcomed in our family the past year
  • On the eight day I pray that people will not just listen but hear what I and others have to say
  • If there were a ninth day I would pray with my heart for peace
  • If there were a tenth day I would pray for equality

For each day I try and focus on something new to be aware of and to be grateful for. For us, it was never about the gifts and the “Jewish xmas”. It was about something else. It was deeper and older and focused on what was inside that could never be bought.

Happy Chanukah everyone!