Sarah and the Magical Dreidel
by Susan Seymour
There once was a little girl named Sarah Stein. She is 9 and her parents have just moved from Brooklyn,NY to Charlotte,NC.
This year Hanukkah fell at the same time as Christmas. In Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue, where she use to live, it was very diverse, but she had several little Jewish friends to spend time with at Christmas. Since, even at a young age, she knew it was difficult being Jewish at Christmas.
Although her new home in Charlotte was beautiful. And now she has a big back yard with a trampoline. Her parents were very financially well off since her father transferred there, he is making double what people are making in Charlotte since the company moved from the North East and they let those employees keep their north east pay..And in Charlotte, where the price of living is much less, this helped to make the Stein’s pretty well off. Where in Brooklyn , they got by…
Sarah’s mom had promised her this would be the best Hanukkah ever since the move and the change in finances, they could splurge.. her mom did her best.. Her great grandma’s menorah sat beautifully on the bay window facing the front yard, proudly for all to see ..And they had their decorations on the windows and doors, proudly sharing their holiday..Unfortunately, they quickly realized they were the only Jewish family on the block. Sarah had no problem making friends, which she had a few. But at Christmas time they were at home with their trees and presents waiting for Santa.
Sarah’s mom always wanted a porch swing. So her dad hung one for them to enjoy and watch the beautiful sunsets..Charlotte , also tends to have milder weather than Brooklyn at Christmas/Hanukkah time. It was after supper, and Sarah wandered out to their large wood porch to sit quietly on the swing..
An unusual woman, named Mayah was walking with her little long haired chihuahua named Ms. Annie. Ms. Annie had a little sweater on. And Mayah, who is eccentric, had a furry hot pink hat and scarf on with a hot pink coat on. To Sarah it was quite warm, but to Charlotte natives, 40 degrees was cold. Rumor has it that Mayah was a fortune teller, which was unusual for this area.
Mayah said to Sarah,”hello”. Sarah meekly said “hi”.Mayah came closer. She said,”why aren’t you inside celebrating Christmas?” Sarah said, “because we are Jewish” and Sarah sighed and said..”it’s Hanukkah” Mayah with a twinkle in her eye said , “well Happy Hanukkah!” Sarah sighed again and said, “thank you ” Mayah came up on the porch and sat next to her on the swing ..Ms.Annie hopped in Mayah’s lap.
Mayah said, “what’s wrong?” Sarah said,”see we just moved here from Brooklyn, I had a lot of Jewish friends and wasn’t lonely during Christmas, but here, I’m the only Jew on the block” Mayah smiled, she said, “well that makes you special”..Sarah said, “special?” “How am I special? My friends are with their families eating ham and singing Christmas carols” Sarah pointed to her neighbor’s house. She was right. Her and Mayah could see in the window and saw the children and family gathered around a piano singing. Mayah softly smiled with that same twinkle in her eye. She said, “Sarah, I have a secret to tell you”, Sarah gleamed at her and said,”what?”
Mayah whispered in her ear, “I’m Jewish too”..Sarah smiled as if she’d given her a million dollars. She said,”really?”Mayah smiled and said,”really..” But some how Sarah still was sad. Sarah said,”well. How come you aren’t with your family tonite, it’s Hanukkah also?” Mayah softly said,”well, my husband was sick and he’s in heaven now and my parents live in Florida and well it’s been a tough year and I decided to stay here with Ms. Annie”.. Sarah said,”I’m sorry “..
Mayah said,”for what.” Sarah was wise enough to know her sadness was silly and how lucky she was to have a family and lots of presents. Sarah said,”I feel bad for feeling lonely when you have more of a reason to feel sad than me”.. Mayah smiled,”nonsense, you can feel sad, but you don’t have to stay sad”..She smiled. Mayah smiled again and remembered she had something special in her pocket…Mayah said,”would you look at this, I almost forgot I put that there”..Sarah’s eyes lit up. A familiar sight. She said,”a dreidel!” Mayah proudly said,”not just any dreidel, this is a magic dreidel”..Sarah looked confused. “A magic dreidel?”
Mayah said,”oh yes!” Sarah said,”how is it magical? Mayah said,”well my mother and grandma were a bit of a free spirit, some almost called them witches, we referred to ourselves as Goddesses of Life..” Sarah said ..”so you’re a witch?” Mayah smiled..”well not a witch, more of a psychic..” Sarah laughed,”a Jewish Psychic?” Sarah said,”in New York there were Psychics, but mom always called them crazy fortune tellers..” Mayah said..”well I’m not a fortune teller or crazy”.
Sarah said,”actually, you seem very nice..” Mayah smiled,”why Thank you!” “I like you too!” Sarah got shy and said,”thank you..”
Mayah handed her the dreidel. “Here, I’d like you to have this, since my mother was hoping I’d have a daughter of my own to give to one day, since I don’t have kids, I’d like you to have it..” Sarah beamed,”Really?” Mayah said,”oh yes, it’s yours..”
Sarah twirled it on the bench of the swing..”What makes it magical ?” Mayah said,well you spin it, make a wish and it’s been known to make wishes come true to who ever spins it..” Sarah smiled,”wow, I think it’s already working “.. Mayah smiled and winked. Mayah said,”did you make a wish?”
Sarah said,”yes, I wished to have a Jewish friend and you showed up ..”
Mayah smiled and put her arm around her and said,”Me too kiddo, me too..”