Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The Fireflies on Rosh Hashanah
Night in Lodz Ghetto


During the Holocaust, the Nazis would not allow the Jews in the Lodz Ghetto to light candles. First of all, to make the Jews miserable, and, second, out of fear of aerial bombardment.

In a narrow room in the Lodz Ghetto, several dozen men gathered for services on the first night of Rosh Hashanah 5704 (September 1943). Every heart was crying out: May the old year and its curses be ended, and may a new year and its blessing begin. But the Gestapo and the Judenrat (the Jewish "self-governing" council in the ghetto) had issued a harsh decree: Not even the smallest candle could be lit. So the Jews who were shut up tightly in the dark and bitter ghetto had to pray in the dark on that first night of the New Year. But as soon as the ḥazzan* began the traditional melody of the invocation at the start of Ma 'ariv—"Blessed be the Blessed Name"—tens of thousands of fireflies flew in through the open windows and illuminated Reb** Melekh Roitbarf's narrow rooms on Dworska Street. At first, the worshipers did not understand what was going on. Soon, however, they realized that they were witnessing a miracle: The fireflies were emissaries of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, come to light up the holy festival. Of course, the Jewish police and the Gestapo perceived at once that the Jews had evidently violated the order and lit candles before praying. A whole company of SS men, accompanied by Jewish police, arrived, shouting at the top of their voices. "Jews, put out the light, or we'll shoot!"

And then came the second miracle: The fireflies landed on the uniforms of the SS men, their vehicles, and their vicious faces.

Only then did the SS men understand that something extraordinary was taking place here. How could there be such a large swarm of fireflies


**Rabbi or Mr.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 624

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?