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Our Marriage Contract and Chanukah

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My husband and son danced as I cried and stared into the glowing flames of the Chanukah menorah. I was told that Chanukah is the end of a long journey that begins with Rosh Hashanah. On Chanukah the gates of Heaven are wide open to receive prayer, and one's judgment for the year is finally sealed. Salty tears wet my cheeks as I prayed my heart out. Why so much? Why such emotion? After all, I had a son, a healthy child. My prayers had been answered with a gracious "yes!" before; why then the longing and the feeling of rejection? Because my husband and I had just celebrated six years of marriage, and in four more months my son would be two-years-old, and my womb was once again empty. Maybe the yes had been a merciful, one time occurrence and I would never know again what it would be like to bring another child into the world? I finished my weeping and brought myself back to my husband and son and joined them in their dancing.

Salty tears wet my cheeks as I prayed A week or so later I was looking through some papers when I came across my ketubah, my Jewish wedding contract. I looked at it and my eyes fell upon my name, Elana. Elana? Where was my other name? I generally only go by my first name, but my parents gave me two names: Elana Mira. I quickly showed it to my husband. Why hadn't we noticed this before? Did it really matter? I insisted that he take it to a rabbi the next day to ask. I wanted to make sure that we were doing things right. We were told that we should have a new marriage contract drafted. The following week on the eighteenth day (which is the numerical value of chai, life) of the Jewish month of Tevet, we had a little ceremony with a new ketubah.

About a month and a half later, I went back to my infertility specialist doctor. I sat in his office with my son. He wrote out a set of prescriptions for hormone injections and a plan for me to follow. I don't know why, but I suddenly told him that I wanted to wait until after Passover when my son would already have turned two. He didn't pressure me, but told me, "No problem, everything is all written out and ready to go. When you want to start, come back, and we'll start."

I left knowing that I wouldn't be back. I came home and explained to my husband that I just couldn't do this again. I would take herbs, I would follow a strictly healthy diet, but I couldn't start with the treatments again, with the running around like a madwoman, the ups and downs, and the anxiety. I just wanted to be happy with what I had and be thankful that I had a son. My husband fully supported me. Two weeks later, I conceived; but it wasn't until two months later that I found out that I was pregnant. I went to have an ultrasound to determine the due date of my baby because I had no idea when I conceived. They told me that the due date was the first day of Chanukah. My daughter was born eight days early on the eighteenth day of the Jewish month of Kislev, eleven months to the day after we changed our ketubah.

I couldn't start with the treatments again What's the deal with the ketubah? Did it make a difference? Did it change something in the Heavens? I don't know. What I do know is that the prayer I had offered as I stared into the flickering flames of the Chanukah lights changed something above, and changed something within. And when I saw my ketubah with part of my name missing, I knew that something wasn't right.

Along time ago, a really big miracle happened. A tiny Jewish army fought against the biggest army of the time, the Greeks, and they won! But that wasn't the only miracle. On Chanukah, we celebrate the tiny bit of oil that lasted eight days. Hmmm. Which sounds like a bigger miracle? And really, what's the big deal with the oil?

The Jewish fighters came back from the war and started cleaning up the Holy Temple. They wanted to rededicate it by kindling the Menorah, but all the pure oil, the oil sealed by the High Priest, had been spoiled by the Greeks; the seals had been broken. And then they found one tiny flask of this special oil. It would take eight days to make new oil, and they didn't have enough to last that long. They had a choice: to use oil that wasn't so fine and pure, but know that the Menorah would be lit during the time that it took to make new oil, or to go ahead and use the purest and finest oil that they had, even if it would only last a short while. In thankfulness and praise to G‑d for winning the war, they took a chance; they decided to only light with the pure oil. They gave the best that they could give, and G‑d performed a miracle. It was as if G‑d told them, "You give Me the best that you can, and I will take care of the rest."

My daughter turned one-year-old, thank G‑d, and once again, we are getting ready to light the Chanukah menorah. My husband carefully pours the oil, and I kiss my daughter's cheeks as I offer thanks. I pour my heart out once again as I watch the majestic flames and I say my name aloud: Elana Mira.

Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
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Elana March 10, 2009

Hello Bianca,

A lot depends on your symptoms, for example your menstruation, etc. I try to only eat whole grains (nothing white or refined) and stay away from sugar. It's important to have an adequate amount of protein and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The more color the better! Stay away from fried foods and stick to "good" fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, flaxseed oil and unrefined canola oil. There are herbs that help enhance fertility like Vitex (chaste berry) and Wild Yam, but you need to consult an herbologist because herbs are potent and should be thought of as medicine. Drink filtered water and try to do some form of exercise such as walking or swimming. Prayer is KEY! I bless you. Purim Sameach, Elana Reply

Anonymous Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 9, 2009

Fertility diet Thanks for sharing your touching story, Elana. I'm also experiencing secondary infertility, I've been trying to conceive for 9 months and still nothing has happened although I have a lovely 3 1/2 year old girl. Would you be so kind as to explain to me what kind of diet would be proper to boost someone's fertility? What about the herbs? I'm very interested in natural ways of making it happen (besides prayer, of course). best regards and happy purim, Bianca. Reply

Elana Mizrahi January 1, 2009

Response to your question. Yes I do Miryam. NOTHING is beyond G-d. Pray and never give up hope. However in order for your children to be raised in a Jewish home you would have to convert not for "our children" but for yourself. Reply

Miryam Alexandria, VA December 30, 2008

Every Word Counts What a beautiful and touching story. It gives me hope. I am considered a gentile because only my father's father was Jewish, and I'm marrying a Jewish man, I plan on conversion so that our children will be raised in a Jewish home. I was previously married with four children but he left for someone else. Now G-d has blessed me with a wonderful man. I pray that G-d blesses us with children, only problem is I'm 45 yo. Do you think it could still happen? Reply

Jendeis Falls Church, VA December 29, 2008

Wow What a beautiful story. My husband and I are also struggling with infertility. I pray that G-D will give us strength to get through this. Reply

vardi Melbourne, australia December 22, 2008

kol haKavod absolutely beautiful story, so inspiring! I wish that I had had your determination years ago...i gave up after 7 miscarriages and 3 IVF treatments...but we are blessed to have our gorgeous son, Elan, who will G-d Willing be 19 at Purim. chanuka same'ach! Happy Chanukah! Reply

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