12,000 Candles in Memory of 3-Year-Old Shula Swerdlov z”l
Last night, my kids and I ooh-ed and aah-ed our way around the 7th Annual Light in Jerusalem Festival, featuring dozens of artist-created light installations brightening up the Old City (see photos here http://lightinjerusalem.org.il/en)
But while I and thousands of other people enjoyed many awesome lights last night, the greatest light of them all, without a doubt, wasn’t of the fluorescent/light-bulb/halogen kind.
The brightest light of all at this year’s Light in Jerusalem Festival is the Swerdlov family, which will be spending every night of the festival passing out a total of 12,000 Shabbat candles.
6 years ago, Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov’s precious daughter, 3-year-old Shula Swerdlov, died tragically in a traffic accident. And this year, as they have for the past three years, Shula’s parents and siblings will distribute candles in Shula’s memory.
This is far from the first project the Swerdlovs have taken on in Shula’s honor: a new sefer Torah, a children’s library, children’s programs on holidays as well as other programs all exist in Shula’s honor.
I remember little Shula, so adorable in her mother’s stroller, and how clear it was that Hindel adored her little girl, named after Hindel’s late mother.
And I also remember seeing Hindel so incredibly broken at Shula’s heart-rending shiva.
And I cannot tell you how incredibly inspirational it is for me to see this vibrant family rising up after such a great tragedy, so determined to light a candle instead of just curse the darkness.
And not just a single candle. 12,000 of them.
May this holy project provide an aliyat haneshamah, the ascent of the soul, of little Alta Shula bat Yosef Yitzchak and Hinda.
And IY”H, may this holy family experience only happy events from now on…