On the second night of Chanukah, right after a party held by Rabbi Yehuda and Feigie Ceitlin of Chabad Lubavitch of Tucson, Ariz., a little miracle happened. Or rather, arrived.
The party had been in the works for some time. Keya Tehrani, owner of the Coffee Exchange shops and Club XS in Tucson, had given them use of the club venue. They invited folk rock band Rogers Park to sing Chanukah songs and original compositions, and hired Darryl Wong, owner and chef of Tucson’s oldest Chinese restaurant, Lotus Garden, to make the food. Holocaust survivor Pawel Lichter, who is scheduled to lead an upcoming “March of the Living” trip to Poland, lit the menorah.
About 200 people showed up for the Dec. 25 event, called “Chanukah Night Out.” Adults and children joined together over salads, Chinese food and homemade doughnuts, with dreidels dotting every table. Feigie Ceitlin, program director for the Chabad, had put her final touches on the event that Friday beforehand, making sure that everything was set up and ready to go, says Tehrani. At the last minute on Sunday, she asked to go ahead without her because she wasn’t feeling well. The event organization was left to her husband; her parents, Rabbi Yossie and Chanie Shemtov; her sister Mushkie Shemtov; and volunteers.
Rabbi Ceitlin, outreach director for the Chabad center, served the evening’s emcee, stressing to the crowd the theme of Chanukah and the “need to bring light into the world to combat the darkness.” The moment the party ended, he got a message from his wife to hurry home. They lit the menorah, said the blessings and sang a Chanukah song, then rushed to Tucson Medical Center, where she gave birth to a baby boy.
“I insisted that we first light Chanukah candles and only then leave,” says Feigie Ceitlin. “I wanted things to go right.”
The Ceitlin family at the brit milah ceremony (Photo: Britta Van Vranken)
As for her husband, “I felt strongly that the baby was waiting for everything to go well; he didn’t want anything to happen to the party,” says Ceitlin. “Everything was perfect, everything was done—and that’s when the miracle happened.”
By the time Tehrani got home, he had a text from the rabbi that the baby had been born: “It was all very exciting!”
The theme of Chanukah is adding more light, and another child is another light in the world, affirms Rabbi Ceitlin.
As is customary, the rabbi had sent an email to the Ohel—the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, that morning—asking first and foremost for blessings from on high for an easy labor, and then also for a successful event, unsure in practice what would come first.
And everything turned out exactly as it should be, he says: “The event went smoothly, people were able to celebrate Chanukah in a united, enjoyable atmosphere at an exciting event, and we had a beautiful, healthy baby.”
His name? Menachem Mendel.
Ceitlin, accompanied by his two daughters, holds the newest addition to the family.
Ceitlin with Keya Tehrani, left, and Darryl Wong before the start of “Chanukah Night Out.”
Folk rock band Rogers Park performed Chanukah songs and original compositions.
About 200 people enjoyed a Chanukah menorah-lighting and evening of festivities before they heard the good news that another Jewish community member had been born.
Menachem Mendel Ceitlin. (Photo: Britta Van Vranken)