Excerpted and adapted from Haunted Holidays: Twelve Months of Kentucky Ghosts by Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown
Go to the Light
Roberta especially liked one story told to her by her Grandmother Simpson. She had heard it from her sister, Barbara Jane, who learned the story while visiting relatives in south central Kentucky.
The story goes this way.
A Jewish lady, one of the few Jewish people who lived in that neighborhood, said that the reason for the Hanukkah lights was not to illuminate the inside of the house, but rather to have the lights show outside, so that anyone going by the house could see the light and be reminded of the miracle of the holiday.
That was an important concept in this story.
In 1939, a Jewish man left Poland with his eldest daughter and her husband. They could speak a little English, so they planned to find work in the United States and earn enough to bring over the old man’s wife and son.
They arrived in New York on August 23. One week later, Poland fell to the Germans, and the man’s wife, son, and everybody else they left behind were lost to them forever.
America had been a land of promise, but the old man and his daughter and son-in-law were unable to get work in New York. The family moved to Kentucky and managed to claim a small farm. They worked hard and eked out a living. Every year, they celebrated Hanukkah proudly because they did not have to do so in secret in their new country.
As the years passed, the old man became ill and frail. He spent most of the time in his bedroom on the second floor in the front of the house. His daughter moved the menorah to her father’s room, so he could light the candles in the window. He firmly believed in the miracle of the light.
The light was shown for those passing by through all those years.
At last the old man died, and his daughter and son-in-law sold the farm and moved away. The new owner did not want to live in the old house, so he tore it down and built a one-story house in the same location.
Life went on, and eventually people forgot about the old man who lit the Hanukkah candles every year.
One year, winter came early, and it was a hard one. The new owner was coming home from town one night when a regular snowstorm turned into a blizzard.
He wasn’t too far from home, but the visibility was only about two feet, so he knew he could wander in circles and freeze to death. He did not know it was Hanukkah, but he stopped, closed his eyes, and prayed for a miracle.
When he opened his eyes, the snow had lessened. He could see lights flickering through the snow, and he walked toward them. They led him to his own home. Something just kept telling him in his mind to go to the light.
“It was strange,” he said later. “The lights were just above my house, like there was a second floor. They kept shining until I was safely inside, just like the miracle I needed. It was like they burned just long enough to fill my need and then they were gone.”
Had he seen through a time warp into the past when the old man lit the candles in his second-floor room to spread the light on Hanukkah?