Recently, I was working on something inspiring to say during candle lighting at a Shabbaton that I will be leading in St. Louis and I came across a super cool story that happened at the turn of the millennium and that somehow I had not heard before (most likely because I was not lighting Shabbat candles regularly at the time). But, as you might know from this post, Shabbat candle lighting time is one my most cherished moments and truly the highlight of my week. Hence, my fascination with this story, so much that I decided to share it with you. This super cool story about Shabbat candles that you’re about to read is also a testament to the eternal quality of the Jewish women’s flames.
In the mid 1990’s the front page of the Friday morning edition of the New York Times used to run a small ad announcing New York candle lighting times for Jewish women. The cost of the ad was $2,000/week and it was sponsored by a Jewish philanthropist.
For the next five years, each Friday, Jews reading The New York Times would see ‘Jewish Women: Shabbat candle lighting time this Friday is __.” Eventually, the sponsor stopped funding this project and, in June 1999, the small Shabbat notice stopped appearing on the bottom page of the Friday Times.
Candle lighting time never appeared again.
Except once, on January 1, 2000, when the NY Times ran a Millennium edition. This was a special issue that featured three New York Times front pages:
The assumption was: Jewish women in 2100 would be lighting Shabbat candles!!!
It was just put in by the Times.
Totally on the mark!
Now, I wasn’t to able to corroborate the statement from this production manager, although the story is repeated many times on the internet, there was no name for this individual and no direct source. BUT, in any case, the truth is that the New York Times did make this decision and printed this. Thousands, if not millions of people, saw that January 1, 2100 New York Times cover. And thus, there must be a lesson for us in all this.
For one, it’s a powerful lesson on the eternity of our people and the eternity of those Shabbat candles, which Jewish women have lit through the centuries, and will continue to light, no matter what. In fact, it reminds us of the candles of our first mother Sarah and all the Jewish women that came after and will come after.
Which made me think of the Midrash’s commentary that Sarah’s candles remained lit from week to week… Did you ever wonder, “Was that truly possible?” “Can the light of the Shabbat candles be eternal?” Well, perhaps The New York times hinted at the answer…
And now, here’s a great video that I also found about this remarkable story:
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