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Light the Night: The First Menorah Candle

Acme Animal opened their studio doors in 1993. Early on, they began making menorahs, after someone requested one. The first menorah designed was the iconic moose menorah and it is still a fan favourite. So much so, that it has even been featured in the Canadian Jewish News book Northern Lights: A Canadian Jewish History . And that is what led to Nancy lighting her first menorah candles this past Hanukkah.

Lighting the Menorah

To back up the story, Nancy was contacted by the Canadian Jewish News back in 2019. They were putting together a book about the history of Jews in Canada and wanted to feature the moose menorah on its cover. Nancy and Sue talked and were thrilled with the news; immediately agreeing to the collaboration.

Flash forward to last fall, and Nancy was again contacted about the book and Acme's association with it. Ellin Bessner reached out requesting an interview and over the course of their conversation, it was revealed that Nancy had never attended a menorah lighting ceremony. Ellin was determined to change that. In a flash, she reached out to Rob Nagus, the Executive Director at Jewish London Ontario. A few emails flew back and forth, and an invitation was set. On December 22nd, 2022 Nancy attended her first Hanukkah celebration.

Chag Sameach

Hanukkah blessings
The blessings recited during the lighting of menorah

Why had Nancy never attended a Hanukkah celebration before? For starters, she is not Jewish. While Acme Animal does make several menorahs and learned the logistics of how they are supposed to be designed, most of her bigger stores and galleries who purchase them are located in the United States. Attending events with them is problematic. Anyone closer has never extended an invite.

That was until Rob emailed Nancy.

"Dear Nancy,

I received your information from Ellin Bessner at the CJN.

I hear that despite making beautiful menorahs for years, you have never lit one. I was wondering if you would like to come by the Jewish Community Centre this week to light the candles with us. We would love to have you!

Let me know if you would have some time.

Happy Holidays, Rob Nagus Executive Director"

Rob was better than true to his word.

From the moment that Nancy and her husband David stepped into the Jewish Community Centre, they felt welcomed. Rob greeted them warmly and led them into a meeting room that was set up for the lighting ceremony. Nancy had a brand new moose menorah in tow that she had made special for the evening. After candles were placed in our blue friend's antlers, the blessings were recited.

Bet you didn't know Nancy spoke Hebrew! Neither did she, but Rob slowly went through the blessings one word at a time, with Nancy gamely repeating after him. The blessings were followed by the lighting of the candles, then songs. Sufganiyot (donuts), tea and coffee, and conversation rounded out the evening.

The evening was a moving event for Nancy and a wonderful way to wrap up the busy Fall season. Experiencing the ceremony behind the menorah was memorable, as was meeting members of the local Jewish community. It was a humbling experience that Nancy plans to attend again next year on the first night of Hanukkah.

Much thanks to Rob for the lovely experience and the individuals who made Nancy feel so welcome. And a big thank you to Ellin for helping facilitate the connection in the first place. Keep shining your light for everyone to see!

A lit menorah with Nancy
Rob Nagus, David Pauls, and Nancy Clarke at a lighting ceremony on the 5th day of Hanukkah


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