A Story for Rosh HaShannah

            August/September 2012    
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A Bird from Heaven

By Leah Cohen

Based on a true story

It was twilight, minutes before lighting the holiday candles, and Miriam's apartment was immaculate. The window blinds were cracked open, inviting the last rays of sunlight to cast a soft pink glow in her living room.

Tonight was the first Rosh Hashanah since her husband passed away. Miriam rocked backed and forth on her darkening balcony, on the chair Sam had lovingly built for her. How alone she felt without her beloved husband by her side. She moved her chair closer to the blinds and watched the street fill with excited children and their mothers greeting and chatting with one another. Her heavy heart ached for her husband, for years long gone. Feelings of emptiness overwhelmed her. The glistening silver candlesticks that Sam had given her many years ago stood on the large, empty dining room table.  Miriam sighed before rising up to usher in the Holy Day.  Her legs moved slowly. She didn't remember them ever feeling so heavy.  

 It is time to light the holiday candles, she thought.  As she walked inside, she longingly recalled previous holiday evenings when happy noises of hurried preparations and sweet greetings filled the rooms of her home.  Relatives and guests would sit around the elegantly arranged table and compliment her delicious cooking.  The grandchildren would claim the side room as their song and skit practice room.  Woe to the adult who dared enter before their show!  And Sam… how her dear Sam stood so proudly at the head of the table, melodiously and reverentially reciting the holy Kiddush.  Every pair of admiring eyes were glued to her righteous Sam.

As she shut the blinds behind her, she heard a soft flutter.  A small bird tapped at the window, then entered through the open slit and entered the living room.  Miriam froze, watching as the bird gracefully flew to the ceiling and circled around and around, as if searching for something.  He flew by Miriam, then made another circle, and finally slowed and landed on the shelf in front of Miriam and Sam's wedding picture.  The bird gently perched on a golden corner of the picture frame.  He chirped.  She held her breath.  

The bird chirped again.  She tensed.  My Sam… my dear Sam remembered me and sent me a bird to bless me for the new year. Her heart trembled. The bird sat still.

Happy New Year to you too, my Sam.  

Please watch over us, Sam. The children, the grandchildren.  Bless us with a good year, Sam, she whispered excitedly.

The bird chirped again.  Then silence as they stared at one another.  A few more moments inched by and the bird rose, flapped quickly around the room, and slipped out the same way he came.  

Miriam smiled and stood in place for a long time. Tears filled her eyes as she looked to her precious candlesticks.  Hands trembling, she lit each candle quickly, cheerfully, with eyes that both laughed and cried at the same time.  The warm flames lifted her spirit and lit up her soul as she sat smiling and reminiscing until the early hours of the morning. 

Leah Cohen is a storyteller, translator, and award-winning educator of both children and adults. A native Israeli, Leah moved to Southern California in 1986 and has since founded an adult learning academy and lectured extensively in a university setting. Her fourth illustrated children book was published in 2010. Currently, Ms. Cohen lives in New York, teaching and writing short stories and articles on various contemporary Jewish topics.


from the August/September 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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